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Work Visa / Work Permit

If you are coming to Russia for business meetings, negotiations, to purchase property for your company, etc., then a business visa will be fine. If you are coming to Russia to work for a Russian company, then you will need a work permit and work visa. However, YOU can't apply for these things independently – it has to be done through your prospective employer.

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.

First, a business or organization in Russia needs to decide that it wants to hire foreign workers and needs to get a special permit to do so. Then, it decides what sort of foreign worker it wants to hire (let's say a manager from England) and will apply for a spot on quota. The quota is a maximum number of foreign workers that can be hired in a geographic area in any one year. The quota is updated each year based on employer demand, official government studies that calculate what the "true" need for such employees is, and, of course, the current direction of the political winds.

If the potential employer gets a spot on the quota, and finds a suitable manager from England, then the work permit process can be started. If a manager from Australia is found, the quota process needs to be redone and then, if it can be changed (often not possible as the quota is generally filled within weeks of its being announced each year), the work permit process can start.

The employer will need to ask you for several things, such as an apostilled copy of your college diploma (Google "apostille" with the name of your state to find out more about that), copy of your passport, pictures, and a possibly a power of attorney.

If the work permit is approved, then the work visa can be processed (the permit basically allows you to work in Russia, but you still need a work visa to enter Russia and use the work permit). After you arrive on your work visa, you'll need to take several medical tests for things like lepracy, chancroids, tuberculosis, and AIDS. A negative test for these things must be turned in with the final paperwork to collect the work permit so that you can start working and officially receiving your pay.

There a few exceptions to who needs a work permit and visa. Diplomats, for instance, don't need work permits. Students coming for internships are actually in a "grey" area, but standard practice is that they come on student visas and don't require work permits. Certain cultural workers (artists, priests, etc.) actually come on "cultural visas" which are processed through the Ministry of Culture and have their own rules.

As we said elsewhere – these things are not easy in Russia. Before accepting an offer of employment here, you should make sure that your potential employer will provide you with an appropriate work visa and permit, if they have processed these materials before for other foreign employees, and if they can help with registering your visa if need be. If the answer to any of these questions is no, think very carefully before buying your ticket and trusting your legality in Russia to this particular company.

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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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