Moving to Russia?
Visas and Residency in Russia
Types of Russian Visas
As mentioned in our article on working in Russia, visa and other permit regulations can be mildly complicated at best and a bureaucratic nightmare at worst. However, with the right preparation — and a good deal of patience — it is definitely manageable.
There are several kinds of visas for Russia, each with a distinct purpose and its own requirements. Below, we have listed the most relevant visa types for expats and the activities it allows them to engage in.
- Business visa: This visa allows for business-related travel to Russia, such as professional consultations, presentations, congresses, or contract negotiations. This is also the visa you require to attend anything of commercial nature, such as an auction. If it is your first visit to Russia, the visa is usually issued for a duration of up to three months. For frequent visitors, multiple-entry visas for up to twelve months are available as well. The business visa is only issued upon invitation by a person or legal entity from within Russia. It does not allow for any actual employment to be taken up; for this purpose, there is the distinct category of work visa. It is not possible to convert a business visa into a work visa from within Russia: you normally have to leave the country first. However, if you are engaged in the setup or upkeep of imported machinery, a business visa is enough.
- Work visa: The central piece to the puzzle of your future expat life in Russia. Acquiring a work visa is the most important step to be taken before you actually relocate. Taking care of this procedure is mainly your employer’s responsibility, but there are certain duties that you will need to tend to yourself. We have discussed the matter of work visas and the special category of visa for highly skilled professionals in detail in our article on working in Russia.
If you would like to bring your spouse and/or dependent children along on your expat venture to Russia, make sure to inform your future employer so they can include any accompanying family members in your work visa application.
After your arrival, you have to notify the local immigration authorities about your place of residence within seven business days. If you have a work contract with a company in Russia, they usually carry out this task for you. Make sure to clarify whether it is your responsibility or theirs beforehand, violations against Russian immigration regulations can have unpleasant consequences. In the worst case, they could even lead to deportation.
Residency in Russia and Professional Assistance
Most expats reside in Russia on their work visa for a predetermined stretch of time, usually up to three years. Officially, you have a temporary visitor status. Should you opt to stay in Russia beyond your original expat assignment, you need to apply for a temporary residence permit.
As with many other bureaucratic processes in the country, this is a rather intricate task for which you may want to seek professional assistance. Luckily, relocation and immigration agencies offering legal advice and practical help are readily available throughout the major expat hotspots in Russia, although you should make sure that your chosen agency is reputable and experienced. Your employer should be able to recommend one to you.
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