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Temporary and Permanent Residency

Many people inquire about residency after they hear that it can be a way to "get around" the work visa and work permit process. However, residency is, generally, harder to get than a work permit. Unless you are planning to live for a couple decades or more in Russia, raise your family there, etc., residency is likely not for you (and even in that case, it might not be for you).

Here is a bit on this works – please note that this is not a definitive guide (that would take pages and pages to write) – but rather just a quick overview to introduce you to how the process generally works. The actual process and documents needed to complete it can and does change often. It can also differs depending on the district you apply in (you must apply for residency in the district where you will live) meaning that the only way to really know what forms and documents you need is to go to your particular office and ask.

You have to start by applying for temporary residency. There is a quota for how many foreigners can be granted temporary residency each year in each particular geographic area. If you are married to a Russian, you will be considered outside the quota. If you are not married to a Russian, the quota is so small and competition for slots so high that, unless you find an "experienced helper" with government connections to "expedite the process," you may find yourself submitting and resubmitting your application and never actually landing a spot. Such a service usually comes with collecting and filling the papers for you, but usually also runs several thousand dollars.

You'll need to have an apostilled report from your home country (Google "apostille" and your home state/country for more information) saying that you are not wanted for any crimes there. You will need an apostilled copy of your university diploma. You will need to take several medical tests at several state Russian medical clinics. You will need to list all the members of your immediate family, what they do, and where they live. You will list all of your former employers. You will do whatever else they ask you to do.

You will also likely need to try at least a couple of times to have them accept the documents (there are often mistakes that need to be fixed – usually by refilling the form, having the related document reissued, etc.) and each time it's possible, depending on the district you apply in, that you'll need to wait in a line that literally takes more than a day to process (if this is the case in your district, the person at the front of the line will usually maintain a list so that you can leave to find food, find a bathroom, etc., without losing your place in line).

Once your documents are accepted, the Federal Migration Service will have six months to consider your application. You'll to need to contact them in most cases to see if you are approved. If you are, you'll be fingerprinted by the state and get a big stamp in your passport saying that you have temporary residency for three years. Then, you'll need to register that at your place of residence (this registration is slightly different from that described elsewhere on this site) and get a special exit visa if you plan to leave Russia within the three years you'll have residency. As a temporary resident, you can independently get a work permit (or use a work permit obtained by your employer) in order to work in Russia.

About 11 months after obtaining your residency, you will need to "confirm" the residency, usually at the same office that gave you the residency stamp in the first place. Officially, this just needs to be done before the one year anniversary, but you could encounter problems and thus should give yourself plenty of time to get it done. This confirmation involves filling out a form, bringing in your tax documents from the past year, bringing in copies of your registration and other documents, and doing whatever else they ask of you. You will get a "receipt" each year for having completed this process. It must be done every year.

Also, after one year, you can begin the process of applying for permanent residency – a process that is very similar to that for temporary residency. While temporary residency is only good for three years and cannot be extended, permanent residency is good for five years and can be extended. Holders of permanent residency can also work without a work permit, leave and enter Russia based solely on their residency permit, and generally hold all the rights and privileges of a Russian citizen (except some, such as the right to vote and the right to serve in the army). You must still "confirm" the residency with the local FMS every year as described above. You can get citizenship after being a permanent resident for five years. Citizenship is the only way to end the confirmation process.

If you have an employer who can provide you with a work visa and work permit, staying with that can be the easiest and cheapest for you to live in Russia. Then, all the paperwork and bureaucracy is handled by your employer, who should hopefully be experienced in handling it, and not by you personally.

Back to "Registration: What is it and how do I get it?"

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This is a non-government site and whilst every endeavour is made to ensure the information is correct and up to date, there may be changes which we are not aware of. It is always a good idea to check the latest regulations. You should confirm details with your local Russian Consular Office.
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