Business visa no longer enough to work in Russia

The days of foreigners finding easy work in Russia may be over as the country is bringing its work visa legislation into line with the EU and the U.S. Given many foreigners have been working without official work permits, the new legislation may pose chal

Companies must now lobby for quotas of work permits – and later get work visas – for foreign employees. They will no longer be able to cut corners by employing people who simply obtain a Russian business visas.
 
Business visas issued after October 17 allow foreigners to stay in Russia up to 180 days a year, for a maximum 90 days at a time. So if people want to work in Russia full time, they have to get a work visa – backed by a work permit.
 
The process of getting them, however, is long and complicated and poses challenges for employers.
 
“Companies are going to have to be a lot more certain when they hire someone that the person is going to work out. They can’t afford to take a punt on somebody who comes in and a few months down the line – for different reasons: they don't like living in Russia, don't like the winter, a common complaint is that their spouse doesn't like it. The company's gone through that whole process for nothing,” commented Luc Jones of Antal Consulting.
 
Uncertainty persists
 
Several foreigners working on business visas for small companies or on a freelance basis told Russia Today off camera that they don't know if their companies have complied with regulations in the past and have no confidence they will be able to meet the new requirements.
 
Russia's Migration Service says hanging around on Russia between jobs suffer tough consequences.
 
“A foreigner who stops working for the company which issued his work permit will be warned and then deported,” said Aleksandr Aksenov, the Head of the Migration Service.
 
Meanwhile, the European Commission is concerned that many foreigners don't even know if the new regulations apply to them.
 
“Many questions have come up in the minds of Europeans living and working in Russia because the texts are not very clear and we believe they may not fully reflect the intentions of the authorities when they were issuing these decrees,” said Paul Vandoren, Deputy Head of EU Commission Delegation in Russia.
 
The EU has asked Russia's Federal Migration service to clarify its position. The service says it will consider putting the clarification on its website but for now the uncertainty continues.