Who needs a visa?

The majority of nationals do require a Visa to enter Russia. However, there are a few exceptions. Nationals of countries which are party to the Russian Federation Visa-Free regime do not require Visas for certain specified short visits.  All other nationals will require a Visa to travel to and enter the Russian Federation.

Please contact our Global Immigration department for further advice.

Business Visa

Business Visas are issued to visitors travelling to Russia for a short-term trip to conduct business activities including attending business meetings, conferences, signing contracts or agreements.

Type of Visa

Foreign nationals who intend to travel to Russia to meet their business partners, take part in negotiations or class-room based training, sign contracts, speak at a conference or install or repair equipment are required to obtain a Business Visa.  No productive work may be undertaken while in Russia as a Business Visitor.  If productive work will be undertaken, Work Authorisation is required by way of a Work Permit.

Application Process

Before applying for a Business Visa, the foreign national must first receive an official invitation from a Russian company.  Business invitations are issued by the Passport and Visa Department (“PVU”) at the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.  To obtain the invitation, the Russian company must be registered with the PVU.

Once the invitation letter has been received, the foreign national should make an application, which may need to be done so in person, for a Business Visa, at the relevant centre or  Russian Embassy or Consulate in his/her country of residence.

A Russian Visa application cannot be made earlier than 3 months before the intended date of travel.

Processing time

Processing times for Business Visas vary according to the country where the application is filed and nationality of the applicant. Business Visa applications filed in the UK are generally processed between 2 and 6 workings days from date of submission.


Business Visas are generally issued for a period of up to 30 or 90 days, sometimes a longer validity can be obtained.  The validity is at the sole discretion of the officer reviewing the application and the details contained within the official invitation. The validity dates of the Visa will correspond with the dates stated in the invitation letter.

Work Authorisation

Foreign workers wishing to work for Russian companies in Russia must obtain a Work Permit.

There are two types of Work Permit:

(i)             Work Permit for a foreign national working for a foreign company in Russia.

(ii)            Work Permit for a foreign national working for a Russian company in Russia.

Working for a foreign company in Russia (i.e. an intra-company transfer)

In order to work for a foreign company in Russia, the employer must file a “Declaration of Need” with the Foreign Migration Services demonstrating that the company has a need to hire foreign workers in order to obtain permission to hire foreign nationals.  Authorisation is granted in the form of an Employment Permit, which outlines how many foreign nationals of a certain nationality the company can hire in specified roles.

Once the company has received approval to hire the foreign national in the required position, the employer must file an application for a Work Permit on behalf of the foreign national.  At the same time, the employer must apply for an Accreditation Card.  Upon approval, the employer will receive a Visa invitation letter to be passed to the foreign national employee for submission with their Entry Visa application.

Upon receipt of the invitation letter, the foreign national should apply for the inosotrudnik Visa at the Russian Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence.

When the visa has been issued, the foreign national can travel to Russia.  Upon arrival, the foreign national must undergo a medical examination at a registered Russian State clinic. The results of the test should be received within one week.  The employer may then present the foreign national with their Work Permit.

Working for a Russian company in Russia

The process for applying for a Work Permit and Work Visa to commence employment with a Russian company in Russia is as set out above, with the exception of the need for the company to apply for an Accreditation Card.  Instead, the invitation letter for inclusion with the Entry Visa application will be generated as part of the Work Permit application process.  In addition, the foreign national should apply for a Work Visa.

Please find below a brief description of favourable Work Permit categories:

Highly Skilled Worker Work Permit

This Work Permit is for employees earning at least 2 million rubles per year in Russia. The Russian employer must also be willing to and meet certain criteria, for example, monthly reporting on salary and tax.

Standard Work Permit (Ltd or Branch Office)

This Work Permit is designed for all foreign nationals (except CIS) based at Limited or Branch offices in Russia.

Type of Visa

A Work Visa allows a foreign national to commence employment in Russia with a Russian company (or representative office or branch of a foreign company).  The foreign national must obtain a Work Permit for employment with that company prior to commencing employment.

Visas known as Inosotrudniki allow for intra-company transfers of workers and allow foreign companies operating in Russia to transfer existing employees to Russia to work in the company’s Russian branch office.

Depending upon the type of Work Permit that is to be applied for, once the Work Visa invitation has been issued; the applicant can then apply for the Work Visa. The Visa application must be filed with the appropriate Russian authority in the Consular jurisdiction of the applicant’s country of residence.

Application Process

For a Highly Skilled Worker Work Permit applications, the following steps are generally required to be taken, other types of permits will attract an alternative process:

  • Personal Work Permit application.
  • Visa Invitation application.
  • Visa application .
  • Post arrival local registration.

Processing time

The processing times do very extensively, the applicant and the company should allow at least 3 to 6 months, and this includes the time for the gathering of application materials.


Work Permits are generally issued for a period of 1 year, which may be extended upon request.

The foreign national employee will initially receive a Single Entry Work Visa valid for up to 3 months.

Upon arrival in Russia, the Single Entry Visa will be converted to a Multiple Entry visa, valid for up to 1 year.  The validity dates of the Visa will correspond with the dates stated in the invitation letter or telex.  The Work Visa may be extended in Russia on the provision that the employment agreement remains in force and a new Work Permit has been obtained.


The immigration status of dependents does vary and is dependent upon the immigration status of the spouse or principle applicant. Generally, dependents are not able to work under dependent status.

However, spouses and children of foreign national employees can apply for an Accompanying Spouse Visa or a Dependent’s Visa at the same time as the foreign national applies for his/her Work Authorisation.

Penalties for Non Compliance

The Russian Federation places a strong focus on non compliance. Those who have overstayed their permission to remain in Russia should expect to receive a travel ban to Russia for a number of years.  Organisations who do not comply with immigration regulations can face substantial fines.


Should a Russian employer of foreign nationals be found to be in breach of their obligations under Russian immigration law or should a foreign national employee be found to be in breach of Russian immigration law, the employer can be fined between RUB 2,000 to RUB 800,000 per violation.

Possible violations include failure to obtain and retain required documentation, discrepancies between the employment stated in the Work Permit and Work Visa application and the actual role being undertaken by the foreign national employee in Russia, failure to obtain a valid Work Permit, and failure to notify government authorities of the foreign national’s employment.


A foreign national employee found in breach of Russian immigration law can receive a deportation order.

Areas of Concern

  • A Work Permit applicant will need to show proof of an adequate education.  Job specific educational qualifications should exist.
  • It is likely that the Russian employer will need to have filed a “declaration of need” for the foreign workers position in Russia and have adequate quota availability.
  • Employees are required to be placed onto Russian payroll and hold a Russian employment contract.
  • The Russian employer is required to notify and register the employee with the Russian tax authorities, namely the Labour officer and the Labour Inspectorate. This must be done so within 30 days of collection of the Work Permit.
  • The Russian Employer is required to make quarterly declarations to the Federal Migration Service in relation to the executing of the obligation to pay remuneration to an employee.

This notification must include details such as the fact that the employment contract is still current and valid. They must also be notified of any unpaid vacation for longer than 1 month within a year.

  • A certificate stating the foreign national is HIV free must be submitted with the Entry Visa application.


The contents of this article are for information purposes only.  The information and opinions expressed in this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice or a comprehensive statement of law or current practice.  Immigration rules and requirements frequently change without notice.  You should not rely upon the contents of this document but instead should seek appropriate professional and legal advice in the light of your personal circumstances.  No liability is accepted for the opinions contained or for any errors or commissions. Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further information.