Work Permits for Russia

As with many things in the country, the process of getting a work permit for Russia is awash in bureaucracy and red tape. National quotas restricting the number of foreign nationals granted the right to work in Russia change yearly depending on the Russian economic climate and the policies of the time. Within the umbrella quota, there are quotas for specific regions of Russia, for specific occupations and professions, and for specific nationalities. These quotas are strictly adhered to. 

Expats working for private individuals and those with specialised, high-demand skills will find it much easier when processing their paperwork. Expats earning in excess of 2 million RUB per annum are usually considered exempt from quotas, as they qualify as Highly Skilled Specialists, and can be granted a three-year work visa.

Employers, both Russian and foreign, who wish to hire expats must apply for their own employment permit before they can legally employ non-locals. Work permits are issued for one-year periods and can be extended from within the country.

In order to legally work for a company in Russia, expats must obtain both an entry visa and a work permit. If both procedures are undertaken simultaneously, the entire process can take roughly three months. Luckily, much of the burden of organising this documentation falls on the shoulders of the employing company. The steps to obtaining a work permit for Russia are outlined below.

Finding a job

In Russia, employers have to prove through a complicated bureaucratic process that they have a need, and thus have the right, to hire foreign workers. This involves filing a formal “Declaration of Need”, and then filing an application to the Foreign Migration Services (FMS). If approved, authorisation is granted in the form of an employment permit, which outlines how many expats of a certain nationality the company can hire and for what positions.

Expats must find an employer with an authorised employment permit to sponsor their work permit. However, in some regions, companies can apply for an employment permit at the same time that they apply for their expat assignee’s work permit. In some cases, an expat will find a job and thus inspire an employer to apply for an employment permit.

Applying for a work permit

Once contracts have been negotiated and signed, the employing company will file an application for a work permit on behalf of the expat. Many of the larger foreign companies are familiar with this process and will inform the potential employee of the necessary documents required. If relocating to Russia as a professional who requires licensing, expats will need to provide translated and notarized copies of their diploma, among other documents.

Applying for an entry visa

Upon application and approval of a work permit, the employing company will receive a formal visa invitation letter. They will pass this letter onto their expat employee who will use this document to apply for an entry visa at their home country’s Russian consulate or embassy.

Medical examination and work permit collection

Once the entry visa is approved and issued, expats can travel to Russia in accordance with the date listed on their visa. In order to be granted the work permit, it's necessary first to pass a medical test in a registered Russian state clinic. Expats should bring a fluent Russian speaker with them to the clinic, as it's likely that state healthcare professionals will not speak English. 

The combined testing and processing time is usually one week. After this examination, the employer will present an expat with their work permit, a small plastic card, and will advise them of additional registration formalities to be completed.

*Work permit requirements can change at short notice and expats should contact their nearest Russian embassy or consulate for the latest details.

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