From ballet to engineer to director. Russia has recently updated the list of professions for which you can get a work visa to Russia with minimal salary requirements. This means that there are more opportunities to get a work visa through these professions but there are a couple downsides compared to other employment visas.
For one, getting a work visa for these professions is not nearly as straightforward as getting a Highly-Qualified Specialist visa, but if you find your profession on this list, you may have an upper hand in getting a work visa. The drawback is you’ll need to take a test on basic Russian language, history and rights. Start brushing up on your Russian language skills and you’ll be able to take advantage of this work visa option. See the full list of professions in English below.
Overview of How Russian Work Visas Work
Any visa to Russia requires an invitation and work visas are no different. If you have a Russian employer, then you receive an official invitation letter from the employer to apply for a work visa at the nearest Russian consulate to you. Processing an invitation for a work visa typically takes from one to two months depending on the status and category of the organization. The inviting organization, your future employer in this case, needs to register with migration authorities, request permission to hire foreigners and basically be vetted by local authorities. For example, a Russian company cannot invite foreign employees to Russia if that company has had past migration violations. Once that process is complete, your employer sends you a copy of the work invitation letter which you present at the consulate with the rest of your visa application documents.
Three Types of Russian Work Visas
Different types of organizations have different requirements for inviting foreign employees.
An accredited educational institution, such as a university, hires an employee from abroad without needing to apply for a work permit in conjunction with a work visa, for example. Similarly, a language school that has an educational license has the privilege of inviting foreign teachers on a work visa without a work permit.
In contrast, like any other company, a language school without a license needs to apply for a quota to be able to hire foreign employees. The quota system applies to any organization that wants to hire foreigners and does not have sufficient grounds to hire outside the quota system. The so-called quota system presents an additional bureaucratic hassle which is why it’s best to use an exception to the quota system such as the above. A company applies ahead of time for a certain number of foreign employees for the following year. It does require some major planning and recruiting in advance which turns out to be a huge inconvenience both for companies and candidates.
The third type of work visa encompasses exceptions to the quota system such as non-educational institutions based on either a minimum level of salary or specific professions. An HQS visa is granted to highly-qualified specialists who earn more than two million rubles per year. If the salary is less than 167,000 rubles per month and you don’t fit into the above options, then check this list of professions at the end of this article.
Which Russian Work Visa is Simplest to Get
By simplest, I mean less bureaucracy and thereby most likely faster to obtain starting with the invitation letter. In this case, the work visa easiest to get is if you’re a teacher or professor going to work at an accredited school or university or licensed language school. The organization hiring you is not required to apply for a work permit either. This is obviously limited to educators, although a teacher-in-training can be hired at a language school with this type of visa and go through training in an entry-level teacher position. An employee starts off at paying 30% income tax until he or she becomes a tax resident at which point it drops to 13% and the employee claims the difference for the first six months of employment.
The second simplest work visa to obtain is an HQS work visa and is granted for up to three years right off the bat. Although the inviting organization is required to apply for a work permit on your behalf, and thus involves some bureaucracy, the processing time is cut down to 14 business days and the organization applies for the work visa invitation letter congruently. The only requirement is that the foreign employee’s salary reaches 2 million rubles per year or more. It’s also worth mentioning that the employee starts off at an income tax rate of 13% right away and the employer saves a good amount on social contributions for the employee as there are none.
- Which Russian Work Visa has More Realistic to Get
Let’s say you don’t fall into any of the above categories. That is, you’re not eager to teach and you don’t qualify as a highly-qualified expert that requires a minimum monthly salary of 167,000 rubles per month. There’s good news and bad news. The good news being you find your profession among the list of 80 approved professions that don’t require applying for a quota. The bad news is that you have some studying to do. Yeah, I know. I thought I was done with homework when I finished my final course at university, but it turns out life is a continual learning process, especially thanks to homework you help your kids with.
The reason getting a Russian work visa based on one of these professions is more realistic is because many Russian companies tend to steer away from foreigners when they have access to local talent. On the whole, they do in most fields. But, if your underlying desire is to merely get a Rusisan work visa in order to legally stay in Russia long-term, then this is a valid option. Let’s see how these can actually be implemented in some real examples.
- Practical Scenarios: How to Use a Russian Work Visa
I’ll share some practical advice based on the most common scenarios I’ve seen over the years. The type of visa and approach best for you mostly depends on your previous experience in Russia.
Scenario 1: You’ve Never Been to Russia
If you’ve never been to Russia before, consider a teaching position. You will certainly want to get your feet wet and see if life in Russia is even an option for you. Does Russian mentality fit you and your personality or lifestyle? Do you feel comfortable in Russia even if you don’t speak the language or have moments when communication is limited? Can you find a suitable city in Russia that speaks to you as far as climate, size and atmosphere?
The quickest way to find out the answers to these questions is to get a teaching position and take a dive into Russian life. Although teaching may not pay for a luxurious life, it’ll give you an opportunity to become acquainted with Russia quickly and pay for your basic needs while doing so.
Scenario 2: You’re Set on Moving Russia with Limited Funds
If you’ve been to Russia before and it just seems to click but you lack access to cash, start off with teaching or seek a job related to a profession in the list below. Once you arrive in Russia, you can explore all your options. Typically, teaching and other ordinary jobs, including most of the ones on the list, don’t hold promising growth opportunities. You’d want to pursue a professional career or start your own business to open up more opportunities for yourself. Of course, begin learning Russian now to prepare for any language tests you’ll need to pass to qualify for the below jobs in Russia.
Scenario 3: Living in Russia on some Savings or Remote Work
You have a great opportunity if you have a small amount of capital or work that pays you in dollars or euros because the Russian ruble is weak. You get much more for your foreign currency now than ever before. Rent, utilities, local food, gas, mobile phone service, internet, transportation, everyday services are all relatively cheap compared to prices for the same things in North America, Europe, Australia and other established countries. If you don’t meet the minimum salary requirement for an HQS visa, you can certainly set up a company and get yourself a work visa based on one of the professions in the list below such as General Director. The minimum salary for this category is only 35,000 rubles per month. The main question is how fast you learn Russian in order to pass the basic tests required.
Scenario 4: Live in Russia on Significant Investment or Income
Given your nestegg or current income meets the minimum salary of 167,000 rubles per month, set up a business and issue yourself an HQS work visa as director. This is by far the most advantageous in terms of income tax savings and operating expenses along with other major benefits. You have the option to either continue building a career or business that serves customers from where you came from outside Russia and/or enter the Russian market by picking up customers locally. Keep in mind there are other major benefits to the HQS work visa that makes this the obvious choice for most.
There are, of course, many different cases which require individual evaluation, but the fact remains that there are a number of ways to make living in Russia as a foreigner possible. Obtaining a work visa is merely one of the ways to stay in Russia long-term without needing to exit Russia and apply for new visas over and over. Did you find your profession on the list below and you want to get a job in Russia or move to Russia? Put a plan into action today to either find a suitable job or set up your own business in Russia.
80 Professions Outside the Work Visa Quota
|Aircraft equipment and electronic equipment technician|
|Aircraft technician for aircrafts and engines|
|Ballet artist (soloist)|
|Artist of symphonic (chamber) orchestra|
|Artist-vocalist (opera and chamber)|
|Assistant to stage director|
|Assistant to art stage director|
|General director of joint-stock company|
|General director of general directorate|
|General director of interbranch scientific and technical complex|
|General director of association|
|General director enterprise|
|General director of manufacturing group|
|Chief project engineer in industry|
|Chief project engineer|
|Director (Head) of the hotel (camping, retreat center)|
|Director (head, authorized) of management|
|Director (head, authorized) of enterprise|
|Joint-stock company director|
|Director of Tourist Base|
|Director of association|
|Director of Economics|
|Deputy Chairman of the Board|
|Aircraft equipment and electronic equipment engineer|
|Engineer for automation & mechanization of production processes|
|Automated industrial management system engineer|
|Automatic process control system engineer|
|New Technology Implementation engineer|
|Information/Cyber Security Engineer|
|Maintenance and Testing Engineer|
|Production Management Engineer|
|Aircraft and engine engineer|
|Aircraft operations Engineer|
|Publishing, newspaper & magazine Correspondent/Reporter|
|Production Unit Operator|
|Chairman of the Board|
|President of association|
|Director of Hobby Group (club, team, amateur association, studio, tourist group)|
|Production Unit Machinist|
|Maintenance & Testing Technician|
|Electrical Equipment Serviceman|