Work Permits for Highly Qualified Specialists Employed by a Foreign Company’s Representative Office & Exam on Russian Language, History and Legislation
From January 1, 2015, the foreign nationals employed by the Russian representative offices of foreign companies will be entitled to obtain a work permit for highly qualified specialists.
As you may recall, a law entered into force in 2010, allowing foreign nationals receiving a salary of at least RUB 2 million per year in Russia to obtain in an expedite manner a work permit and a work visa for a period of 3 years. This law also sets out a lower threshold (RUB 1 million) for employees of specially accredited IT organizations.
Although this simplified procedure for issuance of work permits presents significant advantages compared to the conventional one, the representative offices of foreign companies are, by virtue of the law, unable to obtain work permits for highly qualified specialists for the foreign nationals they hire. In other words, the representative offices of foreign companies are not entitled to apply for work permits for their highly qualified specialists.
This situation will be changed when Law No. 106-FZ dated 05.05.2014 enters into force on January 1, 2015 as, under this law, the representative offices of foreign companies duly accredited will also be entitled to apply for work permits for highly qualified specialists.
Russian language, history and legislation exam
From January 1, 2015 onwards, all foreign nationals will be required to seat an exam to obtain their work permit in Russia (except for highly qualified specialists). The purpose of this exam is to test foreign nationals’ knowledge of Russian language, Russian history and Russian legislation, and it will not be possible to obtain a work permit without submitting a document confirming that this exam has been passed. This rule does not apply to highly qualified specialists, so foreign nationals hired as highly qualified specialists will not be required to seat such exam.
All foreign nationals will be required to pass such exam even if they are only formally employed by a Russian company and work from abroad. For example, this new rule will apply to the foreign general director of a Russian subsidiary which he/she manages from abroad.
Foreign nationals will be able to take this exam in Russian organizations specially authorized for that purpose. These organizations will issue certificates valid for 5 years, so foreign nationals will not be required to seat an exam every year. Those foreign nationals who need to renew or obtain a work permit in 2015 will be required to present a certificate confirming that they have passed this exam when applying for their new work permit.
In case current foreign general directors are likely to fail this exam, we recommend considering appointing another general director prior to expiration of the current work permit or applying for a work permit for highly qualified specialist for the current general director.
Possible decrease of highly qualified specialists’ salary threshold
The State Duma is currently examining a bill (No.582143-6) providing for a decrease in the salary threshold for issuance of highly qualified specialist work permits down to RUB 1 million per year. BRICS Consulting will monitor the consideration of this bill and keep you informed.
Should you have any questions regarding work permits and visas for foreign nationals or their renewal, or regarding any other legal issues, please do not hesitate to contact us. Here you can find more information about our services.