Residence permit in Russia

Jan, 21 2024

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Foreign citizens planning to move to one of Russian cities should obtain the document which is called residence permit. It gives them the same rights and obligations as Russian citizens have with few exceptions. Official status relieves foreigners from need to leave country from time to time or stay within the same region. Having a residence permit, a foreigner can freely travel within the country, move from region to region, change jobs, and cross the Russian border as many times a year, as necessary. 

Most of foreigners obtain official status on the basis of temporary residence permit. It is another document which is valid within certain period of time. However, the rule has exceptions, which we would consider below. Let us discuss at the moment which rights and obligations Russian residence permit gives to foreign citizens.

Advantages of residence permit in Russia:

  • Possibility to obtain citizenship in future. If you want to move to Russia at permanent basis, become a full citizen, and raise your children and grandchildren here, obtaining a permanent residence permit is a mandatory procedure, since you cannot apply for citizenship without this document. There are no exceptions.
  • The right to freely change one’s place of residence within the Russian Federation without notifying the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The only thing that is required when moving: register at a new place or register for migration.
  • Possibility to freely leave and return to the country. Russian residence permit practically does not restrict your movement not only within the state, but also abroad. You can cross the border as much as you need for work, recreation, and personal issues. The only restriction is the period of stay outside the country within a year. It is desirable that the total period does not exceed 6 months, otherwise the residence permit in Russia may be canceled. However, there are exceptions to this rule. If you have been abroad for a long time because you needed urgent treatment, put your affairs in order after the death of relatives, or there was a work need, no one will revoke your residence permit.
  • Possibility to work freely or to do business in local companies, in any region. Moreover, foreign citizens who permanently reside in the country and have received a residence permit of the Russian Federation may qualify for a pension: on the same terms as Russian citizens.

This is not a complete list of advantages which make Russian residence permit worth applying for it. Having this document this document, you will be able to issue an invitation to enter the country for your relatives, friends or business partners who are citizens of other countries. For comparison, a temporary residence permit does not grant such rights to foreigners.

In addition, obtaining a residence permit in Russia allows you to get a mandatory health insurance policy. In other words, you will be able to apply to state medical institutions and use the help of doctors for free. Without the official status of permanent resident of the country, you have to use the services of private clinics or travel to your home country for treatment.

However, there are no legal restrictions on entering and leaving the country if you have a residence permit. So, if you fundamentally want to be treated at home, no one has the right to stop you. You can also freely go on vacation to other countries, visit relatives, go on international business trips. Or even get a job that involves a long stay abroad.

Until recently, a residence permit in the Russian Federation for a foreign citizen has been issued for 5 years. After that, it was necessary to renew the document and contact the migration authorities again. However, in the autumn of 2019, amendments in the field of migration legislation came into force. They made the permit indefinite, so now migrants do not need to periodically renew their documents.

Please note: a foreign citizen permanently residing in the Russian Federation must submit an annual notification to the Ministry of Internal Affairs confirming that he/she still lives in the country. Notification can be submitted in electronic form, and you do not have to personally report to the state authorities every time. However, you will have to submit this confirmation in person every 5 years. If you ignore this requirement for 2 years, your residence permit will be revoked. You will have the opportunity to challenge such a decision of the authorities, but this can only be done in court order.

Who can apply for a residence permit in Russia

All foreigners who live in country permanently for at least one year, do not violate the law and have a temporary residence permit can apply for official status and full rights. However, some foreign citizens can issue documents in a simplified manner, without first obtaining a temporary residence permit. This category includes:

  • holders of the official status of native Russian speakers;
  • highly qualified specialists invited to work in Russia, as well as their families;
  • former Soviet citizens who were born on the territory of modern Russia;
  • foreigners who have parents or children who are citizens of the country and live here permanently;
  • minors whose parents live permanently on the territory of the country or apply for a permanent residence permit, as well as a number of other persons stipulated by law.

When it is impossible to obtain a residence permit in Russia for a foreigner

The law provides for exceptions not only in a positive way: who can issue documents in a simplified procedure, but also in a negative perspective. Simply saying, some foreigners cannot claim official status and full rights, even if they belong to one of the above-mentioned categories.

Permanent residence permit will not be issued if a person violates the law, poses a threat to the security of the country and citizens, or supports extremist activities. You will also be refused permission if you submit false documents or false information about yourself to officials. For the same reason, we advise you to avoid lawyers or simply advisers who recommend filling in the documents any information, regardless of whether it corresponds to reality. In what other cases foreigners cannot apply for a residence permit?

  • If a person has been convicted of a serious crime and that conviction has not been withdrawn or repaid. It does not matter in which country person committed the crime.
  • If a person was brought to administrative responsibility several times within one year, and the violation was related to attack on public order and security.
  • When a foreigner cannot legally support himself/herself, his/her income falls short of the subsistence level.
  • When a person has lived in the country for at least 3 years, and still does not have own housing: owned or rented.
  • Permanent residence on the territory of another country: it happens that foreigners live in another country but seek to obtain Russian citizenship. This is not possible without permanent residence within the country.
  • If foreigner spends more than 6 months abroad within one year without particular reason.
  • If a foreigner entered into a fictitious marriage in order to obtain a residence permit in Russia and in other cases when documents are falsified, it is considered as violation of the law.

How to obtain residence permit in Russia

The procedure takes place in several stages. Most likely, you will first need to apply for a temporary residence permit. As we mentioned above, some categories of foreign citizens may skip this stage. However, if you are unlucky enough to belong to one of these categories, you need to issue a temporary residence permit. This is quite a time-consuming procedure since the government allocates quotas for migrants. They are small, and few people can get a quota for the first time. Usually you have to submit documents several times. However, in some cases, you can do without a quota.

How to proceed after receiving temporary residence permit or if you do not need it:

  • pass the statutory exams;
  • write an application to the local Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
  • attach a temporary residence permit to your application or document that proves no need to obtain it;
  • issue a medical certificate;
  • submit a certificate or account statement that confirms that you are self-supporting;
  • confirm that you have a home if you have lived in the country for more than 3 years;
  • pay 5 thousand rubles of duty.

This is general procedure for processing documents, but it is possible that you can use a simplified procedure of obtaining residence permit in Russia, which eliminates the need to pre-obtain a temporary permit, live in the country for a year, and so on.

Simplified obtaining of residence permit in Russia is available to the following foreigners:

  • refugees;
  • native Russian speakers;
  • participants of programs for the resettlement;
  • citizens of countries such as Belarus and Turkmenistan;
  • highly qualified specialists invited to work in the country, as well as their relatives.

Granting a residence permit in the Russian Federation is usually not possible if the foreigner has not passed the exam on knowledge of the Russian language, history, and the basics of legislation. The exam is not difficult, it does not require the migrant to be an expert in Russian classical literature or all the latest amendments to criminal law, but this test has some features that are important to know about.

First, applicants take a test in Russian language, which takes 75 minutes. Then there is an exam for knowledge of Russian history, it takes only half an hour, as well as for subsequent testing on the basics of local legislation.

The test is not free, it costs, on average, 5,3 thousand rubles. To pass the exam, you must pay for it and provide a migration card plus your passport. If you pass the test successfully, you will be issued a certificate confirming that you are proficient in all the listed subjects. This certificate is valid for 5 years. If you do not complete the documents during this time, you will have to submit it again.

Such foreigners as pensioners, citizens of Belarus, minors and other persons who have a simplified procedure for registration of papers are exempt from the exams.

Documents for obtaining a residence permit in Russia

The main document that is required to obtain a permanent residence permit is an application. It must be prepared and submitted to the Ministry of Internal Affairs at your current place of residence. If you register your status in the standard procedure, you can apply no earlier than 8 months after the issuance of temporary residence permit, but no later than 4 months before this document expires. Together with the application, you submit the following documents to the Ministry of Internal Affairs:

  • identity card;
  • two standard photos, color or black and white;
  • a certificate of passing the mandatory exams for a foreigner or a confirmation that you do not need such testing;
  • a receipt for payment of the fee.

Please note that the amount of the fee is 5 thousand rubles, and it is not refunded if you are denied the status. If it turns out that you will submit documents to the Ministry of Internal Affairs 3-4 times, each time you will have to pay a fee. To avoid unnecessary expenses and stress, it is not superfluous to consult a lawyer who specializes in migration law before submitting documents.

The period for consideration of a residence permit in Russia is from 2 weeks to 4 months but be prepared for a long wait. Track the status of your request yourself, so that you do not end up being denied the status and do not have time to file an appeal. Also make sure that officials give you a certificate confirming that they have received your request.

Who issues a residence permit in Russia

To get a residence permit in Russia, foreigners apply to the local Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They also receive their documents there if their request is approved. In the same instance, they should confirm every year that they continue to live in the country and have not left.

As we have already said, it is important to independently monitor whether the response to your request is ready. This can be done via the official website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs or by phone, contacting the appropriate Department. However, in this format, you can only be informed of one thing: whether or not the response to your application is ready. Without an identity card, officials will not tell you whether you have received a permanent residence permit or not. This can be found out only by attending migration office personally.

Let us say you were refused permission. In this case, you have the right to appeal the decision of officials in administrative and judicial proceedings. In first case, you file a complaint to the head of the local Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In this complaint, you should very carefully and thoughtfully justify why you were refused to issue a document illegally. If the administrative complaint did not take effect, you can file a lawsuit in court. In this case, you cannot do without help of qualified lawyer.

When you need to renew or change your residence permit

As we mentioned at the very beginning, since 2019, the period of residence permit in Russia is unlimited, so there is no need to extend the document. However, as always, there are exceptions to this rule. The document must be replaced when you reach the age of 14, 25, or 45. It is also subject to replacement if it is worn out, damaged or has fallen into disrepair for some other reason. You will also need to update documents if you have changed personal data, for example, if you changed your last name after marriage.

The most annoying case is when you have to update documents when they contain errors or inaccuracies. However, there is a big exception to all the rules concerning the period of residence permit in Russia: specialists who are invited to work in the country. The fact is that they get a residence permit based on a work permit. And as soon as this second document becomes invalid or its term ends, the term of the residence permit also expires automatically.

How to get a residence permit in Russia for a highly qualified specialist

Valuable specialists who are invited to work in the country have many advantages. They do not have to apply for a temporary residence permit, and their status is such that employers cannot pay them a low or even average rate. However, their residence permit is linked to their work permit.

As a rule, this is not a problem: if the employer extends the contract, the residence permit in the country is automatically extended. Another thing is if the employment contract is terminated. In this situation, the permission is revoked. A foreigner has 30 working days to leave the country. Well, if he did not plan to stay in the country for a longer period than the job required. What if he wants to stay? Then the specialist has 30 days to find a new job and sign a contract.

The period for consideration of a residence permit in Russia for a highly qualified specialist is 3 months. Finally, it is worth noting that if you have received a residence permit before 2019, you can simply replace it with a new document, which is permanent. The law does not require to re-pass the entire procedure for registration of papers.

Author of the article
Residence permit in Russia
Valentina Khlavich
Managing Partner
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