Russia: New Registration Rules for Foreign Workers

Modifications to the Address Registration of Foreign Workers

On June 27th, 2018, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin passed amendments to Russia’s migration law. More specifically, he reformed the requirements and procedures of registering foreign workers through the Federal Migration Service (FMS).

As of July 8th, employers were no longer allowed to register their foreign employees under their work address. According to the modifications, international employees would need to be registered with the FMS with their actual place of residence by their landlord. The only exemption would be applied to employees who lived on the premise of their place of work. In those cases, employers can continue to register their employers under their work address, provided they can show proof of residency.

Specific Changes Made

  1. The law redefines certain technical terms within the law such as “place of stay” and “host party”:
  • “Place of stay” now denotes a living premise or other accommodation, where a foreign national actually dwells (that is, uses it for sleep and rest on a regular basis).
  • “Host party” denotes a Russian national, a permanently residing foreign national, a legal entity, a branch or representative office of a legal entity that have provided a foreign national with accommodation where he/she actually dwells.

Exception: An organization is considered to be the host party and the place of stay for a foreign employee in case this foreign employee actually lives at the address of the organization or its premises does not have an address.

  1. It is established that a foreign national is “subject to registration” at the address of stay (previously – “obliged to register” at the address of stay).

Actualization of the Changes

In practical terms, this is what the changes mean:

  • Foreign nationals must be registered at the place of their actual dwelling (house, apartment or other)
  • Employers no longer enjoy the right to register foreign employees at the company’s address, with the exception of those employees who actually dwell at the company’s address
  • Depending on the type of the accommodation lease agreement, the employer or the landlord that has provided accommodation directly to a foreign national will be the host party and will be responsible for carrying out the registration process.
  • If no lease agreement is concluded, the landlord will be the host party.
  • Highly Qualified Specialist employees can also be considered the host party in respect of their family members, in case they own the residential premises in Russia and use it for actual residence.


What Prompted These Changes?

The reforms to this migration law were a result of a court case between two American citizens who faced deportation from Russia in 2016. Parker Drake Oldham and Nathaniel Joseph Worden were Mormon volunteers who had traveled to Russia in 2015. Despite living at a totally different location, they received their migration registration at the address of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Local police believed this to be a grave administration violation that warranted deportation. However, further investigation and discussion over their deportation resulted in Russia’s Constitutional Court acknowledging the lack of clarity in the federal migration law that stipulated exactly which address was viable and could be used for registration.

This confusion is what led President Putin to introduce the revision and clarification through the amended law.


How Does the Amendment Affect Foreign Employees in Russia?

Currently, the legislature does not allow a foreigner to register themselves. Instead, they need a “welcoming party” who could be an employer, landlord or University to do it on their behalf.

Previously, companies could register employees themselves, but this is no longer allowed. According to the new framework, employers will now have to rent accommodation for their worker and register him/her, or else a landlord will need to take care of the registration of a tenant.

Landlords who adhere to this new practice will also have to control their guests’ travel and register them with the FMS every time they cross the border, as the law requires.

If a guest doesn’t notify a landlord about their travel plans, the latter will be unknowingly breaking the law for failing to register their tenant again. This might put a tenant at risk too – a landlord might refuse to take care of the registration or fail to do it due to other reasons, for instance, while on holiday.

It’s still unclear whether it will be possible for landlords to register tenants online or via the post and it also remains to be seen whether those already registered with the employer’s address would need to re-register.

Students Also Affected

Before the new rule was put in place, Russian universities would register their foreign students under the university’s address. However, with the recent changes, they have to register their students using the address of the university dormitories.

Due to the fact that, in some instances, the number of available rooms in the dorms do not match the number of foreign students looking for accommodation (notwithstanding there are also Russian students who may also wish to live on campus), this method of registration is not always convenient.

For international students who opt to rent their own apartment off campus, they will need to ask their landlords to register them with the Federal Migration Service.


Consequences of Non-compliance

Both employers and foreign individuals alike face the risk of being slapped with penalties and fines. Individuals can be charged with fines starting from as low as 2,000 rubles ($32) to 7,000 rubles ($111), or worse, deportation.  On the other hand, employers who provide falsified information as they register their foreign staff will have to pay a fine that can be as high as 800,000 rubles ($12,739).

Bottom line, this new registration rule for foreign workers requires both employees and employers to adhere to the rule and be truthful about the area of residence for any and all foreign workers.


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