Foreign personnel: employment restrictions
There are no restrictions on how many foreign employees can work in a given Russian company or how long they can be employed in Russia. However, restrictions are in place regarding the types of activities in which foreign employees can be engaged (e.g. a foreign individual cannot work in a public service position). Foreign employees working in Russia may be conventionally split into four categories described below. The regulation of employing foreign employees is based on imposing certain rules with respect to each category of foreign citizen.
(1) Foreign employees from countries of the Eurasian Economic Union. These are foreign employees from several CIS countries, namely, from the Republics of Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, respectively, united in an integrated regional economic organisation – the Eurasian Economic Union. Foreign employees belonging to this category enter Russia on a non-visa basis and need neither a work permit nor patent to work in Russia. Citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic will also soon be shortly able to work in Russia without work permits subject to the completion of procedures for the Kyrgyz Republic’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union. (Citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic may enter Russia on a non-visa basis.)
(2) Highly Qualified Specialists ("HQS”). These are foreign employees entering Russia on a visa basis and/or entering Russia on a non-visa basis (excluding citizens of the Republics of Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, respectively) whose income in Russia makes them eligible for the privileged status of "Highly Qualified Specialist”. HQS status is available to foreign employees earning a salary of at least 167,000 RUB (about USD 2,800) per month (the employer must inform the immigration authorities about payments made to HQS in every quarter). HQS employees work in Russia on the basis of their personal HQS work permits while their employers do not need to formalise employment permits.
(3) Regular foreign employees entering Russia on a visa basis. These are regular (i.e. those without HQS status) foreign employees entering Russia on a visa basis. Such employees may work in Russia on the basis of personal work permits and their employers must obtain corporate employment permits.
(4) Regular foreign employees entering Russia on a non-visa basis. These are regular (i.e. those without HQS status and who are not citizens of the Republics of Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, respectively) foreign employees entering Russia on non-visa basis. Such foreign employees must obtain patents to be able to work in Russia.
It should be noted that foreign nationals permanently residing in Russia on a permanent residency permit basis or foreign employees engaged, for instance, in the assembly of technical equipment delivered to Russia are exempt from certain immigration law requirements. In practice, the number of such foreign nationals is relatively low and, hence, we will not describe them as a separate category of foreign employee.