1. What permits and authorization are required for a foreigner to work in Russia?

Visas, Work Permits and Patents

The required approvals and the procedure depend on whether a foreign individual requires a Russian visa to enter Russia. In accordance with this criterion, foreign employees can be divided into two groups:

  • Foreign employees entering Russia on the basis of a visa-free regime3
    Foreign employees, who are citizens of visa-free countries are required to obtain a work patent in order to be legally employed in Russia. In order to obtain a work patent, a foreign employee must apply to the relevant authority (as specified below) within 30 days of entering Russia and provide various documents (e.g. certificate of knowledge of the Russian language, voluntary medical insurance agreement (policy), etc.).
  • Other foreign employees
    Foreign employees from other countries are required to obtain a Russian visa and a work permit.

Under the general procedure, in order to employ a foreign individual, the employer must: (a) file an application for a quota to use a foreign workforce; (b) obtain a permit to hire a foreign employee; (c) assist the foreign individual with obtaining an individual work permit and work visa.

Other requirements

A foreign employee (with certain exceptions) must confirm his knowledge of the Russian language, history and basic legal framework to the authorized state authority - the RF Ministry of Internal Affairs (the MVD), which superseded the Federal Migration Service (abolished in April 2016), within 30 (thirty) days of entering Russia.

In addition, foreign individuals employed at representative offices and branches of foreign companies are required to obtain a personal accreditation card from the accrediting body (i.e. the RF Chamber of Commerce and Industry).

2. Is there a simplified procedure for obtaining a work permit?

Yes, there is a simplified procedure available for special categories of foreign employees.

"Highly qualified specialists" ("HQS")

The main criterion for recognition of a foreign employee as an HQS is their monthly salary. Generally, for companies and accredited branches/representative offices of foreign companies in Russia, this criterion is set to be no less than RUB 167,000 per month. For HQS, it takes up to 14 (fourteen) business days to obtain a work permit (as opposed to three-four months for standard employees). The term of a work permit may not exceed three years with a possibility of multiple extensions for a period not exceeding three years each time. Employers engaging an HQS are not required to apply for quotas to use a foreign workforce or to obtain permits to hire foreign individuals. Russian companies and representative offices/branches of foreign companies have the right to employ HQS.

"Key personnel"

Representative offices, branches and subsidiaries of foreign companies have the right to engage certain foreign employees deemed "key personnel" (e.g. CEOs, general directors) who have been employed at the head office of a foreign company, which is a member of the WTO, for at least one year at the representative office/branch or a subsidiary. These employees are provided with work visas for a period of up to three years (with the possibility of extending it for another three-year term). The statutory term for these employees to obtain a work permit is 30 (thirty) business days.

3. What are an employer's obligations with respect to employment of foreign employees?

The Labor Code applies to any employees working in Russia, including foreign employees. All employees are required to have an employment agreement and a labor book: a record documenting an employee's work experience.

Following commencement of a foreign employee's employment, an employer must:

  • Report to the MVD on the conclusion and termination of employment agreements or civil law contracts with foreign individuals (including those foreigners who work on the basis of an international agreement or an agreement of the RF, i.e. without a work permit or a patent) within three business days of the conclusion or termination.
  • Notify the MVD of the salary payable to the HQS on a quarterly basis.
  • Notify the MVD if a foreign citizen who occupies the position of an HQS has been given unpaid vacation for more than one month in a year within 3 (three) business days.
  • Provide a foreign individual with voluntary medical insurance by entering into an insurance agreement with a Russian insurance company on the provision of voluntary medical insurance.


3 Citizens of Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.