Labor rights of foreigners in the Russian Federation

From 2015, the terms of employment of foreigners in Russia have changed. Amendments have been made in the Federal law № 115-FL from 2002. The purpose of the innovations was to strengthen control, reduction the number of illegal workers, improving working conditions for law-abiding citizens. What are the labor rights of foreigners in Russia?

Categories of foreign citizens

All migrants coming to our country as wage earners can be broadly classified into several categories:
  • citizens of the Customs Union member countries (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan), as well as foreigners with a residence permit, can be employed just like as ordinary Russians, without a permit;
  • foreigners, who need a visa to visit Russia (far abroad), have to issue a special document — a work permit. This task is performed by employer;
  • residents of the so-called near abroad, who do not need visas, get a job on the patent, which can be obtained individually by requesting to the MVD Main Department for Migration (former FMS).

For citizens of the Custom Union countries

Opportunities in employment for foreigners in the Russian Federation are somewhat limited, and no matter to which category the workers belong. They cannot get a job in the government service, take elected positions, work in power structures, secret organizations, enterprises of the defense industry.
There are no more restrictions for citizens of the Custom Union countries in employment. They, as well as residents of Russia, need to provide to employer a standard package of documents: passport, working book, educational qualifications.

For visa foreigners

Entry of foreigners from visa countries, who want to get a job, is limited by quotas. To ensure that a worker of this category can enter a country and start working, the employer (only legal entity) must submit an application to the migration department to issue an official guest, as well as to hold a work permit. But first the employer himself must obtain permission to recruit foreign labor within the quota.

The permit is valid for a period specified in the contract, but no more than one year, and is "tied" to a certain region. It can be extended only in case of grounds, for example, if the employer prolongs the work contract.

Moving to another region, practicing a profession other than one of that specified in the permit, cannot be realized: you need to issue a new document.


Highly qualified specialists have much greater freedom. Established quotas do not apply on them, they can change their places of work, and the permit is valid for three years, while it can be prolonged many times. Both the employer and the specialist can deal with processing documents in the migration department.

The law establishes a minimum wage for such foreigners — from 58 500 rubles per month, depending on the scope of their activities. Salary is indicated in the contract that confirms the particular status of specialist for the migration department. Whether the person taken by job has proper skills is determined by the employer itself.
There are preferences for family members of foreign specialists — they also have the right to enter, residence and employment without receiving special permits.


The patent should be received by those migrants, who do not need visa to enter the Russian Federation. Even at the entry to the Russian Federation, you need to write in the migration card that the purpose of arrival is employment. Otherwise, you will not be able to issue a permitting document. Migrants who crossed the border under the cover of visiting relatives or tourism, and themselves joined the ranks of illegal laborers, remained out of work.

For migrants

Now, with the implementation of patent system, all foreigners from visa-free with Russia countries can get a job without taking into account quotas. Thus, possible corrupt component, when quotas were chosen by employment contractors selling jobs, is deleted.

Earlier, the patent gave the right to employment exceptionally in the firms of private entrepreneurs — individuals. Now it is possible to find work in organizations that have the legal entity status.

On the other hand, the patent limits labor rights of foreigners in the Russian Federation. Firstly, it is financial limits. Obtaining a patent and its prolongation are on a paying basis. The amount of payment is established by the region, so it is different for each constituent entity of the Russian Federation. Moreover, regional authorities can regulate the number of foreign workers, increasing the patent value independently.

Exams in Russian language required now (true for all foreigners) come with a cost.

Secondly, the patent limits the right of a labor migrant to freedom of movement — place of work can be located only in the region, where the document was issued.

For the employer

With increasing the punishment for illegal labor, employers became less profitable to employ foreigners to work — it requires to get permission, pay taxes, be engaged in the migration registration. It is necessary to conclude a contract in accordance with all the norms of the internal labor legislation. It protects an employee from possible arbitrariness of the employer.
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