What is the change? Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has introduced changes to its work permit application procedures, including those for obtaining Highly Qualified Specialist work permits.

What does the change mean? The changes will require applicants to have passports that are valid for at least 1 ½ years at the time of their application and meet strict photograph standards. The changes also limit who can sign paperwork for a company and increase the standard processing time for non-HQS permits to 15 business days. Finally, a provision that fees will not be charged for work permit renewal applications or correction applications has been removed.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits, including for Highly Qualified Specialists.
  • Who is affected: Employers and foreign nationals applying to work in Russia.
  • Impact on processing times: The standard processing time for individual non-HQS work permits has increased from 10 business days to 15 business days.

Additional information: The new regulations were introduced in January and took effect Feb. 4. Among key changes:

  • Foreign nationals, including those applying for HQS work permits, must hold passports that are valid for at least 1 ½ years from the date on which their application is submitted.
  • HQS work permit applicants must submit photos that adhere to strict requirements. Head height should measure between 32 and 36 millimeters, and head width should be between 18 and 25 millimeters. Photos should have no red-eye effect and cannot be digitally altered or touched up. The background should be one color, preferably gray or light blue and not white. The image must match the applicant’s current appearance.
  • Applications submitted on behalf of a company must be signed by the chief executive, head of the branch office or by other executives who have authority to sign documents on behalf of the company without a power of attorney. The signatory’s job title must be included.
  • A provision of the regulations that work permit renewal applications and correction applications are not subject to government fees has been removed. No new fees were introduced, but it seems likely the fee of 3,500 rubles (about US$60) for initial applications will likely be applied to renewal and correction applications as well.
  • Documents submitted to authorities cannot include notes made in pencil.
  • The standard processing time for individual non-HQS work permits will increase to 15 business days.

BAL Analysis: Employers should take note of the changes and be prepared to follow the new procedures. Applications that do not adhere to the new rules may be unnecessarily delayed or rejected.

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

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