Russia Wants to Boost Number of Highly Skilled Expats

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Dec. 2 – Russia should double or even triple the number of qualified foreign specialists working in the country, Konstantin Romodanovsky, head of the Federal Migration Service, said at the Federation Council, ITAR-TASS reported.

Under the Economic Development Ministry’s estimates, Russia has to annually attract 40,000 to 60,000 qualified foreign specialists to help implement its modernization goal, Romodanovsky said. About 20,000 foreign specialists arrive annually, Romodanovsky said.

Russia needs to attract not just foreign investors, but also foreign brainpower.
Since the introduction of eased restrictions in July 2011, an estimated 2,610 highly skilled foreign specialists have received documentation to work in Russia.

Russia decided in July that highly skilled expats earning 2 million rubles (US$63,500) per year will enjoy easier visa applications. They are now outside the work permit quota regime and the recent changes mean their paperwork can be processed in just two weeks.

Their family members will also get an easier ride and the potentially unlimited number of work permits will be valid for three years.

“We receive almost 50 applications for this type of migrant every day,” Romodanovsky said.

The service has issued work permits to highly skilled foreign specialists from such leading global companies as Nokia, Siemens, Microsoft, Volkswagen, Societe Generale, and Goldman Sachs since the beginning of this year, Romodanovsky said.

Romodanovsky said the types of firms using the new law varied widely, but singled out French companies and banking institutions as particularly active.

He said his department is looking to differentiate further: both to widen the category of foreign specialists that the new law encompasses and increase the preferential nature of their immigration status.

“We are moving in a direction where we can widen the circle of possible participants – companies working in Russia – to attract intelligent, talented and willing people,” he said.

The Federal Migration Service’s role is to check that the applications meet the requirements. Romodanovsky encouraged employers to take advantage of the new system. “The rest is in your hands,” he said.

At present, there are over 7 million foreigners in Russia, including about 2 million tourists and students, Romodanovsky said. Over 1 million foreigners are working legally in the country, while up to 3.5 million live in Russia legally, but work illegally. Over 50 percent of foreigners in Russia are citizens of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

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