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Highly Qualified Specialists – changes in 2024 in Russian law

In July 2023, the Russian President signed Law No. 316-FZ, which, among other things, introduces a number of significant changes relating to foreign “highly qualified specialists” (hereinafter “specialists”) beginning from January 7, 2024.

WHO ARE HIGHLY QUALIFIED SPECIALISTS?

These are foreign nationals that work in Russia, earn a certain amount of money (it will be mentioned at the end of the article) and on this basis have special preferences as foreigners from the legal point of view.

WHAT IS CHANGED?

1. LIFELONG RESIDENCE FOR SPECIALISTS AND THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS

Beginning from January 7, specialists and their families have the right to get a lifelong permanent residence permit in Russia. For a foreigner to obtain such a permit, he/she must meet a few requirements:
a) He/she must have been working in Russia as a highly qualified specialist at least 2 years;
b) He/she must have been living in the country at least 2 years on his highly qualified specialist work permit;
c) Their employer must have paid all required taxes for this specialist.
Before that, the permit validity was limited by the work permit expiration date.

2. CHANGED PERIODS

If a foreign specialist quitted their job, he/she has 30 working days to get hired somewhere else, and if he/she fails, he/she has 30 calendar days to leave Russia together with their family.
Before law 316, everything was the same except for the period during which a specialist must leave the country if he/she failed to get a job – it used to be 30 working, not calendar days.
Once the period is over, the residence permit, visa or work permit are revoked.

In addition, before the bill became law, the period within which one had to turn to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to obtain a ready work permit was not regulated by law. Now this period is 30 calendar days from the date the decision to issue (or renew) a foreigner a work permit was made. If during this period the applicant did not take their permit, he/she has to leave the country within 15 calendar days.

3. NEW GROUND TO PROHIBIT THE EMPLOYER TO HIRE SPECIALISTS

Before that, there were two grounds:
- If fake or forged documents were provided to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
- If obligations related to the involvement of highly qualified specialists are not fulfilled, for example, regarding the payment of wages.

The new ground is the failure to provide to the Federal Tax Service information on the amounts of personal income tax calculated, withheld and transferred to the budget for a specialist within 6 months following the reporting period; or the provision of false or forged information on the amounts of this personal income tax.

4. DOCUMENTS

Beginning from January 7, 2024, those who applied for issuing or renewing a work permit do not have to provide the original labor contract – its copy is enough. And the employers do not need to provide their employee’s registration any longer.

5. SALARY FROM MARCH 1, 2024

Earlier, the employers had to pay a highly qualified specialist at least 167,000 rubles monthly before tax.

Beginning from March 1 (not January 7) the minimum salary paid to such a specialist will be 750,000 rubles quarterly. This means not only will the payment increase (the foreigner must earn on average 250,000 rubles or more every month), but the calculation method itself will be different.



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