RUSSIA – Ongoing Issues with Work Permit Quotas
Following our news alert in February about the removal of quota approvals for “non-compliant” companies, the situation with regard to quota approvals has worsened. Several companies have had applications for quota approval refused, or approvals overturned, and it has also been clarified that a company with no quota approval may not be granted permit approval even for quota-exempt positions. Applications for Highly Skilled Worker permits are unaffected.
Quota Refusals for “Non-Compliance”
The standard work permit process for Russia requires the Russian company to have a quota approval – i.e. permission from the Russian government to employ foreign nationals in specific positions over the course of a calendar year. Quota applications must be made every year by 1 May in order to gain approval for the following year.
However, many companies that submitted applications for quota spaces for the year 2013 were rejected. Furthermore, several companies that were originally granted quota approval have had this overturned. Reasons given by the Interdepartmental Committee on the Employment of Foreign Nationals in Moscow include:
- Violation of labour legislation with reference to occupational health and safety
- Non-compliance with terms and complete payment of the salary
- Redundancies of Russian employees in order to replace them with foreign nationals
- Violation of tax legislation
- Failure to notify employment centres of employment of foreign nationals
- Non-compliance with the law #90 dated December 22, 1994 “On quota allocation of work places”
- Failure to notify employment centres of existing vacant positions
Quota Exempt Positions
Several positions (shortage occupations) are exempt from the need for a company to have a quota approval in place (see list for 2013 here; however, the resolution of the Interdepartmental Committee makes it clear that companies with no quota approval for 2013 may NOT be granted company work permit approval (and therefore cannot be granted individual work permits) even for these quota-exempt positions.
Work permit applications for nationals of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (i.e. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan) are also subject to quota approval; however, at this time, we understand that applications for work permits for quota-exempt positions will not be affected, since these are processed directly by the Federal Migration Service without the involvement of the Labour Department of Moscow.
What If We Didn’t Commit a Violation?
In several cases where quotas have been refused or overturned, the violations supposedly committed by the companies are inaccurate. In these cases, it is strongly recommended that the company send a formal request in writing to the Ministry of Labour seeking clarification.
Companies may submit quota amendment applications, which should be supported by evidence that the company has not committed violations. These applications take at least two months to be approved.
Highly Skilled Workers
Applications for highly skilled workers, who must be paid at least 2 million rubles per year in Russia, are not subject to quota approvals and so are unaffected.
- If your company has had a quota application rejected or a quota approval revoked, it is strongly recommended that you write to the Labour Departnment seeking clarification. You may also wish to file a quota amendment application.
- Note that permits for Highly Skilled Workers are unaffected; you may wish to consider the feasibility of using this route for all upcoming transfers to Russia