What is the change? The Russian Federal Migration Service is introducing electronic letters of invitation (e-LOIs) into the work visa process.

What does the change mean? The FMS will transmit a letter of invitation in digital format directly to the appropriate consulate, eventually making the process more efficient for companies applying for work visas for foreign highly qualified specialists.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing. The testing phase is expected to be completed by mid-July.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work visas.
  • Who is affected: Employers applying for work visas.
  • Impact on processing times: Currently, processing for the electronic letter takes one day longer than for a paper LOI, but the FMS is working to improve the speed. It is hoped that when the system is finalized, applicants will be able to receive their approved letters on the same day they are issued.
  • Business impact: The change will speed up processing by eliminating paper mailings.
  • Next steps: The FMS in Moscow and other cities has begun issuing electronic letters, but the agency is still testing its equipment and training its officers. With the digital procedure, the letter of invitation will be sent directly from the FMS to the consulate. As such, the current system will not allow the applicant to review the letter for errors before it is sent to the consulate.

Background: Foreign highly qualified specialists who submit an initial visa application must obtain a letter of invitation from Russian migration authorities approving the application before they can obtain the visa from a Russian consulate. FMS is offering electronic letters of invitation for business and work.

BAL Analysis: Applicants may now opt for electronic transmission of letters of invitation in Moscow and other jurisdictions that have implemented the new procedure, but applicants should be aware that the system is still in the testing phase and there is a risk of complications if there is an error in the letter.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in the Russian Federation. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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