Language Test for Standard Work Permit Applications

A presidential decree published on 7 May 2012 calls for migrant workers to be required to take examinations in Russian language, history and civic legislation in order to be permitted to work and reside in Russia. If implemented, this rule would take effect from November this year and will greatly impact corporations bringing foreign national employees to Russia.

Exemptions for Highly Skilled Workers

Employees in Russia under the Highly Skilled Worker scheme would be exempt from the examination requirement. The Highly Skilled Worker scheme is a route by which employees can be granted work permits outside the quota system, with a shorter processing time than is standard, and with a longer validity of permit – the exemption from the language/life in Russia examination would be a significant additional benefit However, to qualify for this route, the employee must be paid at least 2 million rubles annually in Russia, with the Russian employer making quarterly reports and paying 13% tax on this salary.

Impact on Corporations

The introduction of the test but exemption for Highly Skilled Workers seems to be a clear move to strongly encourage corporations to bring employees to Russia under the Highly Skilled Worker route rather than with a standard work permit. However, it is important to note that, currently, Highly Skilled Worker permits are not available for foreign-owned representative offices in Russia. The impact on employees of representative offices would therefore be significant, as these employees, unless legislation changes, would be required to take the examination.

Format of the Examination

The practical application of how the examination would work, how applicants would be scored, and when it would be taken, has not yet been announced. It is likely that there will be strong opposition from business groups to the new decree.

Action Items

  • Note that, from November 2012, language and civics tests will likely be required for standard work permit holders
  • If your office has current employees in Russia on standard work permits and is in a position to switch these employees to Highly Skilled Worker Permits, this may be advisable
  • If your office in Russia is a representative office, it is possible that the tests will be unavoidable for your employees. 
With thanks to Peregrine Immigration Management for flagging this story -

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