RUSSIA – New Free Movement Agreement with Belarus & Kazakhstan – Update on HIV Test for Work Permit Applications
An agreement on the free movement of workers between Russia and former Soviet republics Belarus and Kazakhstan has been ratified and is now effective for Belarusian nationals, and coming into force from January 2012 for Kazakh nationals. The agreement waives the need for employees from Belarus or Kazakhstan to hold work permits for employment in Russia and vice versa.
Separately, Russia has reintroduced the requirement for foreign nationals to take the HIV test necessary for the work permit approval at Russian state clinics; tests done at private clinics will no longer be accepted.
Free Movement Between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan
The new agreement between the Russian Federation, the Republic of Belarus and Kazakhstan contains the following key points in relation to employment in Russia:
- Employees of Belarusian or Kazakh nationality are no longer required to obtain work permit in order to take up employment in Russia
- Employees of Belarusian or Kazakh nationality are no longer subject to quotas when taking up employment in Russia
- Such employees must have a signed labour agreement with the local employer in Russia (this is a requirement for Russian nationals also)
- Where employment is terminated, Belarusian and Kazakh nationals have the right to sign a new contract with a new employer and remain in Russia without the need to exit and re-enter the country
- Belarusian and Kazakh nationals are permitted to remain in Russia for up to 30 days without registration
- Dependent children residing with the Belarusian or Kazakh national employee have the right to access state education on equal terms with local Russian residents
The agreement is reciprocal, meaning that the advantages now offered to Belarusian and Kazakh nationals in Russia should be offered in return to Russian nationals in Belarus and Kazakhstan, Kazakh nationals in Belarus as well as Russia, and Belarusian nationals in Kazakhstan as well as Russia.
Other CIS Nationals
Note that special arrangements remain in place for nationals of the rest of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). This CIS consists of Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Belarus and Kazakhstan are the only of these to have entered into the new agreement with Russia, so work permits are still required for all other CIS nationals. However, note that these are administered and processed differently from work permits for non-CIS nationals – contact Peregrine for more information if required.
Separately, Russia has reintroduced the requirement for the immigration HIV test (a necessary step before the personal work permit for a foreign national can be collected) to be carried out at a state clinic.
This is an issue Russia has gone back and forth on – for several months, foreigners were required to have an extensive medical, including tests for HIV, leprosy, tuberculosis, syphilis, chancres and addiction to narcotics – all at a Russian state clinic. Widespread objection to this rule was made and since then, the Russian authorities have backtracked. Currently, all the medical tests can be carried out at a private clinic apart from the HIV test which now must be done at a state clinic.
Practicalities of State Clinics
In practice, obtaining a negative HIV test from a Russian state clinic can be an administrative burden. An appointment must be made in advance and the appointment card then taken to the test. Depending on the clinic, the foreign national may then need to attend the clinic again in person to collect the results.
Exemption for Highly Skilled Workers
Foreign nationals following the Highly Skilled Worker procedures (qualification criteria include an annual salary of over 2 million rubles to be paid in Russia) are exempt from the HIV test requirement but it should be noted that HIV tests may still be required for entry visas at the Russian Consulate or Embassy in the applicant’s home country, depending on the Consulate or Embassy – this should be verified on a case by case basis.
- Note that free movement of worker agreements are in place between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, meaning that nationals of one of these countries no longer require work permits for the other member countries.
- Note that, effective immediately, HIV tests for foreign nationals applying for work permits in Russia must be done at a local state clinic. All other medical tests may be completed at a private clinic.