Legal Alert: How to avoid deportation over minor traffic offences

Just like everyone else, foreigners in Russia should not break the law. The current law is very clear on the issue of leniency for foreign citizens with regard to violations: when you have committed two or more administrative violations within a year, you can be denied access. An amendment to that law is being proposed now which, if enacted, will result in deportation for non law-abiding foreigners.

Work permits for foreigners come in different categories: regular work permits under quota and for  specific managerial positions (no quota required) and work permits for highly qualified specialists (“HQS”). A HQS work permit is available for foreigners who earn at least 2 million roubles (50,000 Euro) per year and is a shining example of Russian hospitality:  the procedure is fast (2 weeks), the visa is issued for three years and salary paid is only subject to 13% personal income tax. For that reason, most foreigners requiring a visa work in Russia with a HQS work permit.

The Russian government has recognised the importance of highly qualified foreign specialists for the Russian economy, but this does not necessarily mean that HQS-foreigners can count on leniency when they have broken the law. Recently,  the HQS work visa application of a Polish citizen was denied because he had committed some minor traffic violations (total amount of penalties: 1500 rubles).

The calculating foreign citizen will ask: how likely is it that a few traffic violations will end my Russian career prematurely? It has always been a long way from the hand written “protocol” of the traffic police to the electronic database. Plus there would be various ways of spelling your name in Russian. This has changed dramatically for two reasons. Firstly, Russian roads are increasingly filled up with camera’s which automatically register traffic violations and parking rules are vigilantly enforced by cars with camera’s which snapshot the license plate of every wrongly parked car, sometimes several times a day.


Secondly, the migration authorities have linked their database with the database of the police. So called “key fields” like your passport number in combination with citizenship make it possible to identify a speeding driver as a foreign national with a work visa. In that respect, the adagio of “iron” Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the NKVD (predecessor of the KGB and FSB) has lost nothing of its actuality: отсутствие Вашей судимости -  не Вашазаслугаа наша недоработка (the fact you have not been convicted is not your achievement but our failure).

When you own a car personally, these violations appear in your name in the database of the police and can be automatically reconciled with the database of the migration authorities.

Что делать? (What to do?) The policeman will say: drive carefully, do not violate the rules! If you are not sure you can do that, take a driver and you have created another job!  And if you really cannot avoid to drive, make sure the car is registered on a company or in the name of a Russian citizen who trusts your driving skills.

Also make sure that your employer informs the migration authorities every quarter (!) that you are still there, or he risks draconic penalties (up to 1 million roubles). And, last but not least, do not forget to register every time you arrive. As a foreigner you have to get registered by your employer or by your landlord within 7 working days with a registration free period of 90 days for HQS only. Registration can take place by a courier at the post office, but the paperwork should be done in advance. 

This update has been reproduced with kind permission of BVDM Tax and Legal Services  www.bvdmlaw.nl 

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