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How to get refugee status in Russia


Refugees are foreign nationals who left their country where they are in danger and persecuted for national, religious and other reasons. This status gives a non-citizen of Russia the right to legally stay in the country.


Federal Law of February 19, 1993 N 4528-I “On Refugees” lists the following grounds on which a foreigner should be persecuted to be recognized as a refugee in Russia:
• race,
• religion,
• nationality,
• ethnicity,
• membership in a certain social group,
• political opinion.


No one is automatically recognized as a refugee. To obtain this status (also known as “temporary asylum”):

1) You must apply to the Migration Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs; if an individual is still abroad, the application should be filed at the Russian Consulate. When a potential refugee crossed the border illegally, they must apply to the Ministry of Internal Affairs or border control point on the Russian border within 24 hours from the time they entered the country.

2) After this, the foreigner will be called for an interview and asked to fill out a questionnaire and survey form. If the applicant has minor children, they are indicated in the parent’s documents and do not need to submit documents separately. The foreign national is also sent for fingerprinting and photography.

3) Within 5 working days (or 1 month if the application was filed through a Consulate) the authority will give a preliminary response if they are ready to consider the application or not. The foreigner is given either a Petition Consideration Certificate or a notice of refusal to consider the petition on the merits. A Petition Consideration Certificate serves as an ID while the decision is being made.

4) If they managed to obtain the certificate, the next step is to undergo a health examination.

5) In 1-3 months the applicant is given either a Refugee Certificate or a notice of refusal to recognize them as a refugee.

A Refugee Certificate is issued for no more than 3 years, yet one can extend it. Note that the individual that applied for refugee status must deposit their passport until they are denied the status or their certificate expires. The exception is citizens of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics and Ukraine.


Refugees gain special rights to:
1) obtain the services of an interpreter;
2) seek medical and pharmaceutical help for free, on an equal basis with Russian citizens;
3) be accommodated in a temporary accommodation center if the foreigner does not have housing in Russia;
4) receive assistance in obtaining documents to enter Russia if they are abroad;
5) receive assistance in ensuring travel and transportation of luggage to their place of temporary stay;
6) receive food and use utilities in a temporary accommodation center;
7) receive assistance in vocational training or employment on an equal basis with Russian citizens, and many other rights.

Do not forget that if you are a refugee in the Russian Federation, you must observe law and in particular migration rules. As it is impossible to cover them all in one article, we recommend reaching out to a lawyer if you have some doubts about your stay in the country.


Foreign nationals cannot obtain refugee status in Russia if:
• there are serious reasons to believe that they have committed a crime against peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity;
• they had committed a serious crime of a non-political nature outside Russia and before they applied for refugee status;
• they are guilty of committing acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the UN;
• the competent authorities of the state of origin recognize their rights and responsibilities associated with the citizenship of that state;
• they are currently receiving the protection and/or assistance of other UN bodies or agencies other than the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
• they have left the state of their nationality (former usual place of residence) for economic reasons or due to famine, epidemic or emergency situations of a natural or man-made nature.


If you want to apply, remember that few applicants ultimately become refugees. To obtain this status, you must conclusively prove that you are persecuted and the country of origin does not defend your rights. As evidence, you can provide your crime reports to the police or other authorities that were ignored, letters or emails, conversations in messengers, photographs and videos. The main thing you should prove is that despite the fact your rights are violated, state bodies fail or do not want to help. We also recommend you to carefully read the above list to understand if the Ministry of Internal Affairs has grounds to refuse you. If you flee from your country of nationality because an epidemic broke out or a crisis started, it will not be considered a good reason to be granted temporary asylum.


Each case is specific and individual; to prepare a good defense tactic, it is worth discussing the case with a migration attorney. They will assess your chance of success and advise what you should say during the interview and what to write down in the questionnaire to increase this chance. Feel free to contact us:
Tel: +7 909 961-19-09
Visit us: Moscow, Zubovskiy bulvar, building 4/1, office 308

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