RUSSIA – Language Evidence Requirement Introduced for Some CIS Nationals
The Russian language requirement for migrant workers announced in May (see Peregrine alert here) will come into force from 1 December 2012, via Federal Law # 185-FZ, signed on 12 November 2012. The language test will not be as broadly required as initially anticipated and in fact will only be required for nationals from visa-free countries (i.e. some Commonwealth of Independent States, or “CIS” nationals) working in certain sectors.
Who Is Required To Prove Russian Language Skills?
Under the new law, foreign nationals from countries with a visa-waiver arrangement with Russia and who will be working in housing and utility services, retail, or consumer services will be required to demonstrate basic Russian skills.
In practice, and although the law does not specifically refer to the CIS, the visa-free countries are the Commonwealth of Independent States, not including Georgia or Turkmenistan.
Nationals from Belarus or Kazakhstan are not affected because they do not require work permits at all to work in Russia, and nationals of Kyrgyzstan are not affected because Russian is an official language of Kyrgyzstan.
This leaves nationals of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, working in the sectors listed above.
Format of Language Proof
Confirmation of language skills can be submitted in either of the following forms:
- Certificate issued as proof of passing an exam of “Russian as a foreign language” – this exam must have been taken at a certified centre of the Russian language; OR
- Diploma of at least secondary level education issued in a country of the former USSR before September 1991 or on the territory of the Russian Federation after September 1991.
Impact on Corporations
When the presidential decree calling for the language test was first announced back in May 2012, it was feared that a language test would be required for all standard work permit applications. Actually, the requirement to prove language skills will not have as great an impact as anticipated, as it is required only in sectors where the foreign national is working in a role that directly interfaces with the public, and is only for certain nationals.
- Note that the Russian language requirement expected since May will be introduced from 1 December 2012 but only affects "visa free" nationals in certain sectors.