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Visas and Residency in Russia

Moving to Russia is not an easy task. Not only do expats have to choose between many possible future hometowns — the country’s surface area is gigantic. Russian visa regulations for expats often pose another obstacle. Let our guide assist you prior to your move to Russia.
Visa and immigration legislation in Russia tends to be rather complex.

Types of Russian Visas

We have already outlined in our article on working in Russia that the regulations regarding visas and any kind of permit for the Federation can be mildly complicated at best and a red tape parade at worst. With the right preparation — and a good deal of patience, we might add — you will surely master the task of gaining entry rights to the Russian Federation.

There are various kinds of visas for Russia, each with a distinct purpose and its own requirements. Below, we have listed the most relevant visa types for expats and the activities it allows them to engage in.

  • Business visa: this visa allows for business-related travel to Russia, such as professional consultations, presentations, congresses or for the purpose of contract negotiations. This is also the visa you require to attend anything of commercial nature, such as an auction. The visa is usually issued for a duration of up to three months and only upon invitation by a person or legal entity from within Russia. The business visa does not allow for any actual employment to be taken up; for this purpose, there is the distinct category of work visa. It is not possible to convert a business visa into a work visa from within Russia: you have to leave the country first. However, if you are engaged in the setup or upkeep of imported machinery, a business visa is enough.
  • Work visa: the central piece to the puzzle of your future expat life in Russia. Acquiring a work visa is the most important step to be taken before you actually relocate. Taking care of this procedure is mainly your employer’s responsibility, but there are certain duties that you will need to tend to yourself. We have discussed the matter of work visas and the special category of visa for highly skilled professionals in detail in our article on working in Russia.
  • Family visa: in order to be able to bring your family along on your expat venture to Russia, you need to apply for this visa. Make sure to inform your future employer about this, so they can handle this task along with the application for your personal work visa.


After your arrival, you have to notify the local immigration authorities about your place of residence within three business days. If you have a work contract with a company in Russia, they usually carry out this task for you. But you should clarify which of the two parties involved holds which responsibility in advance, as violations against Russian immigration regulations can have unpleasant consequences. In the worst case, they could even lead to deportation.

Residency in Russia and Professional Assistance

Most expats reside in Russia by virtue of their work visa for a predetermined stretch of time, usually up to three years. Officially, you have a temporary visitor status. Should you opt to stay in Russia beyond your original expat assignment, you need to apply for a temporary residence permit.

As with many other bureaucratic processes in the country, this is a rather intricate task for which you may want to seek professional assistance. Luckily, relocation and immigration agencies offering legal advice and practical help are readily available throughout the major expat hotspots in Russia. However, you should make sure to consult a reputable and experienced agency. Your employer should be able to give you pointers.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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