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No To Working In Moscow

Aug 21, 2008
All matters related to the arrival of a foreigner in Russia are dealt with in Federal Law entitled - On the rights of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation, also known as the Law on Foreigners. Among the items this law covers is the one regarding an expatriate working in the Russian Federation. Under this law, all foreigners are free to exercise their capability to work, choose their career and profession, and have the right to freely utilize their personal property in any enterprise or economic undertaking not prohibited by law. Like many other Russian laws, this one certainly sounds appealing and democratic.

The dilemma lies in the fact that this law can, at least for the time being, be considered Utopian, but in practice, foreigners in Russia cannot use their means freely, because back in 1993, a procedure was established for employers to attract and use foreign labor. This system is still in force, even with the passage of the new law. In order for a company registered in Russia to have the right to legally employ a foreigner, it has to secure two permits. The first is the permission to invite and employ foreign labor; the second is a work permit for every foreign worker.

The permit procedure consists of five steps, and takes an average of five months with the help of a company that specializes in registering foreigners. This time period, it should be noted, is approximate, and comes from information garnered from the State administration, which essentially means that it could take much longer. If a company decides to seek a permit independently, without recourse to a professional company, the time may drag on indefinitely.

The tour of the offices consists of the following:
1. The first step for an employer who wants to hire a foreigner is to apply to the district employment office at the place where the company is registered, for a permit to invite and employ foreign labor (IRS), a temporary document that allows him to receive the actual permit at a later date. At the Office, it is necessary to explain in detail the reason for inviting a foreign employee, and to answer the question, why can the company not hire a Russian citizen; to present registration and charter documents for the Company; to fill out statistical forms on the Company need for foreign workers, and their future salary; and to provide a copy of the proposed employment contract. The Company must also specify what country the worker will be coming from, and what position he will occupy.

This way, the employer is registering not some theoretical worker, but rather a person he knows personally and with whom he has already reached an agreement about a specific position.

2. After receiving written permission at the center, the employer takes all the necessary documents to the appropriate department of the Federal Employment Administration, according to the Subject of the Federation, for example, Moscow. Examination of the documents takes place without the presence of the employer, which on the one hand avoids additional running around, but on the other hand, increases the time necessary for reviewing the documents.

3. After receiving official permission and a conclusion, the employer must go to the territorial department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). In Moscow, these functions are fulfilled by the Moscow GUVD (municipal militia, or police) Foreign Migration Department. The employer will be subjected to more detailed scrutiny, and the list of documents he must present will be substantially longer. In addition to the above documents, the employer will also be asked for his last financial statement with the stamp of the Tax Inspector, and a number of other documents that testify to the economic state of the Company.

If all his documents are in order, and the GUVD is ready to give its assent, the employer will have to pay a federal fee.

4. With this permission, payment order, and the packet of documents the GUVD demanded in hand, the employer next goes to the Federal Migration Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) of the Russian Federation. This is the department that will issue him a definitive permit to invite and hire a foreign worker, or workers.

5. Having secured this permit, the employer returns to the territorial department of the MVD, migration section, to receive permission for a specific individual. It is at this stage that the foreign citizen whom the prospective employer is trying to register is checked out. The company must have been in contact with the prospective employee, and must have secured several necessary documents from him, including his diplomas, and a physician certificate, including negative results of an HIV blood test, and must provide the MDV with copies of these, along with copies of his passport and visa.

Only after successfully completing all these procedures can an employer or company intending to hire a foreigner, or the foreign employee, consider themselves invulnerable and protected from any untoward incidents in case of a verification or check by the authorities.

But they cannot rest easy very long, as a work permit is good for no more than one year, and as soon as a foreigner receives his first permit, he must immediately begin the procedure for obtaining the next one.

Because of all the difficulties involved, qualified foreign experts frequently lose out to illegal immigrants from neighboring countries, illegally working in Russia. Obtaining a permit is so involved that employees are not always able to complete the renewal process in time, and as a result, runs into the problem of being unable to continue working.

Will the procedure for registering foreign workers on the Russian market be simplified? And to what extent do the Russian authorities acknowledge the difficulties and inadequacies of the existing system?
About the Author
Winston Johns is a correspondent of the famous Danish newspaper in Moscow, Russia. For the past 2 years he has been working as a freelance journalist and editor for Moscow Hotels web site.
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