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Attracting The Most Intelligent To Russia


The Ministry of Economic Development proposed a simplification of the migratory process as its main goal in proposals to improve investment conditions in Russia.

The Ministry explained that its main goal now is to attract the best minds to the country. It is a matter of personnel—not only for the future of developing innovative technological enclaves, but also for the educational sphere—since “modernization without intelligent personnel is impossible.”

Oleg Artamonov, advisor to the Director of the Federal Migratory Service (FMS), says that the FMS developed these proposals. “We have already tested this mechanism with France. Russia signed an agreement with the country about preferences for bringing in highly skilled specialists, administrators, their family members, and accompanying staff.” Artamonov believes that it is necessary to not restrict the labor market and to improve visa support so that it is more appealing for innovators, investors, and people who bring technology to come to Russia.

For such people, officials propose to end all quotas on issuing work permits and entry invitations, to entirely abandon labor certification regarding the use of foreign employees, and to do without employment contracts with the employers. The preparation for these employees currently takes anywhere from 12 to 23 months, but after such changes, it should take no more than a month, according to the Ministry of Economic Development.

Now, foreigners can receive work permits valid for one year, though they are region-specific (for example, if you work in Saint Petersburg, then the permit does not allow you to work in Moscow.) The Ministry of Economic Development suggests getting a single permit and extending its term to three years, or for the duration of the employment contract. The same time-frame has already been introduced for work visas. “Our time frame of one year for foreigners is absolutely laughable, and a five-year passport is a joke” says a ministry employee. “. “Foreign countries give visas good for 10 years and five-year passports to Russians seeking to work overseas.”

“The fact that foreign investments are hampered to a certain degree by migration policy barriers is taken into consideration in investment decisions.  Our clients’ testimonials testify to this,” says Evgeny Reyzman, a partner in the Baker & McKenzie law firm.

A ministry official explains that the proposed measures require many legislative changes, including the law “On the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens,” the Tax Code, and the Budgetary Code.  He confirms that such proposals already exist and are now being coordinated with various departments. Ministry of Economic Development and FMS personnel are expecting to conduct the revisions quickly enough so that they will begin taking effect January 1, 2011.

Reyzman believes that the list of quota-free categories of employees must be expanded as much as possible for highly skilled managers and specialists. The current procedure requires companies in Russia to determine a year in advance what kind of employees they will need.

Sergei Guriev, Rector of the New Economic School in Russia, says that the current process of bringing over foreign specialists is a mockery. Registering    work permits for professors can take over a year. He recalls that he had to come back a few times in order to finalize different documents. “When people see how the migratory officials treat them, their desire to work in Russia sharply declines.” He recalled that for some, this was an insurmountable problem and they subsequently chose to seek work in  Latin America or Europe instead of Russia.

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