Yes, it is possible to get a residence permit by working in Russia, but you can only obtain a residence permit by working in certain professions and by satisfying some other requirements. 

For the past several years, Russia has progressively simplified immigration law and the procedures required to obtain residence permits in Russia. Russia’s demographic crisis, negative population growth, and slowing economic growth have been the main drivers for implementing these changes. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin has stated clearly that immigration law has to change and the goal is for Russia to add 10 million more citizens in the next 10 years. This is an ambitious goal, but the policies so far seem to be working. 

Here is a list of the major changes that the Russian government has made to immigration law in 2019 and 2020:

  • It is now possible to apply for a residence permit if your child has Russian citizenship, thereby skipping the need to apply for a temporary residence permit. You can read about the specifics here.
  • Foreign students who have graduated from Russian accredited universities may now also obtain a temporary residence permit and subsequently a permanent residence permit. 
  • The Russian government has also created a list of certain specialist professions, which are eligible to apply for a residence permit in an attempt to attract more foreign talent to live and work in Russia. 
  • One of the most long-awaited amendments to Russian immigration law is on the verge of implementation. Around summer 2020, a new law will go into effect allowing dual citizenship for those who acquire Russian citizenship. Until now, you were required to renounce your citizenship in order to obtain Russian citizenship, an obvious barrier for Western citizens looking to live and settle in Russia. 
  • Also, new laws have been introduced to simplify residence permit procedures, shorten processing times, and make residence permits valid indefinitely instead of 5 years.

Many experts and futurists believe that in the next 10-20 years, Russia will become a highly desirable place to reside and the reason is that Russia has 2 major advantages over many other countries (hint: they are not oil and gas). 

Russia’s advantage over other countries has more to do with the size of the country and climate change’s reduced effect due to its position on the globe. If you examine climate change in Russia, in the coming decades Russia is likely to be one of the few places on earth where people will not be dying from extreme heat or rapidly rising sea levels. The sparsely populated territory is also a significant advantage as many highly populated countries begin to suffer from overpopulation. Some experts even believe that great immigration is coming to Russia, potentially to the tune of hundreds of million people in the next 50 years. 

Russia’s immigration system continues to be one of the least accessible in the world, especially for refugees (with the exception of Ukraine), but lawmakers are constantly trying to simplify the law to attract qualified specialists and foreing students to Russia’s labor force.

Gaining a Russian Residence Permit and Citizenship Working as a Qualified Specialist

Today, one of the easiest ways to obtain residency in Russia indefinitely is to work as a qualified specialist. As of February 2020, the Russian government has approved a list of 135 “qualified specialist” professions, which they deem essential to Russia’s continued economic and cultural development. Foreign citizens who come to Russia to work in one of these professions are allowed to obtain a residence permit after 6 months of working officially in any of the professions from the list.  Interestingly, the Russian government is also offering a fast track option to gain Russian citizenship for these professionals as well. 

Some of the more popular professions included in the list of qualified specialists who are able to apply for a residence permit after six months are doctors, nurses, pharmacists, engineers (including IT specialists), unqualified and highly qualified construction workers, teachers, and many others. If you would like to see the full list, you can find it here

In this article, we will focus on teachers and the opportunities available to them in Russia. 

There are many foreign citizens that live and work in Russia as foreign language teachers at language schools, kindergartens, and international schools. Russian immigration law allows educational institutions of any type, including private schools to sponsor teaching visas for foreign citizens that are coming to Russia to work in their organizations. The main requirement is that the educational institution is properly accredited with the Russian government. These foreign citizens do not even need a work permit to work legally in Russia. All they need is a teaching visa sponsored by the accredited educational institution where they work in Russia.

The best part is that as of February 2020, any foreign citizen employed as a teacher is eligible to apply for a residence permit and citizenship in Russia.  

The two main documents that allow foreign citizens working as a teacher to qualify for a residence permit are:

  • The employment agreement with their educational institution 
  • A certificate from the Russian pension fund confirming that the employer has properly made pension contributions for the employee for not less than 6 months

It is important to note that this route to receiving a residence permit is only for teachers who are officially employed with accredited schools and not freelance teachers. Freelance work is of course allowed in addition to your day job, but in order to qualify for a residence permit, you need to provide the two documents mentioned above. 

In addition to the documents above, you will also need to provide the following documents to support your application:

  • Application form
  • Notarized translation of every page in your passport 
  • Migration card
  • Migration registration slip 
  • Criminal record background check from your home country with apostille
  • Medical certificates from a Russian clinic
  • Certificates of knowledge of the Russian language, history, and legislation  
  • Documents proving financial stability (usually a tax slip from your employer (2-NDFL) or a statement from your bank showing at least 140,000 rubles in a deposit account) 
  • State fee of 5000 rubles
  • Passport-sized photos 

The processing time to obtain a residence permit is 4 months from the date you successfully submit the application to the immigration authorities. Once you have legally worked in Russia as a teacher for one year, you can apply for Russian citizenship via the fast track program. 

It is entirely possible to apply for a residence permit and citizenship on your own, but understand that it is not an easy process. Unfortunately, the reality is that immigration officers are looking for every opportunity to deny your application. Therefore, if you are interested in speaking to a verified lawyer, feel free to reach out to Timur at Vista Immigration (his details are below) or write to contact@expatriant.com. We would be more than happy to provide you with a brief initial consultation and a price quote to get your residence permit and citizenship based on your employment as a teacher in Russia.

For information on all of the legal means to stay in Russia, check out our Ultimate Guide to Legal Residence in Russia

Timur Beslangurov, Managing Partner, specializes in civil, corporate and migration law. Timur has extensive experience in establishing businesses in Russia, including corporate structuring for foreign companies entering the Russian market. He contributes to The American Chamber of Commerce Committees on these issues. Timur acts as a regular speaker at seminars and conferences. He graduated from Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO). He speaks Russian, English, Serbian and Croatian.

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