Residence Permit in Russia - 2021 Guide

Residence Permit in Russia

Updated on Tuesday 11th May 2021

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Foreign citizens wanting to live in Russia are required to apply for a Russian residence permit. The Russian authorities issue two types of residence permits for foreign citizens: temporary residence permits and permanent residence permits. Obtaining a Russian residence permit leads to Russian citizenship for those interested in acquiring a Russian passport. In 2015, the government amended the Immigration Law and our Russian lawyers can explain what the new changes imply and how they influence those who want to apply for residence permits.
The first step to acquiring a permanent Russian residence permit is to obtain a temporary one. Our lawyers in Russia will help you apply for any of the two types of residence permits and explain the procedures for 2021.

Who can apply for a Russian residence permit in 2021?

It is important to note that the Russian authorities have well-established regulations as to the foreign citizens who are eligible to obtain residence permits (temporary and permanent). Under the new Immigration Law, all foreign persons who want to obtain Russian residency must prove their knowledge of the Russian language, history, and legislation. The knowledge must be supported by documents issued by Russian authorities. The following categories of individuals are exempt from certain requirements when applying for residence permits in Russia:
  • persons aged below 18 and over 60 who must not demonstrate they speak Russian or that they know the country’s history;
  • foreign students enrolled with Russian accredited universities or other schools can obtain temporary residence permits;
  • foreign citizens who specialize in specific areas which are sought by Russian companies are also exempt from the above-mentioned requirements;
  • foreign citizens who have family members from the Soviet Union and who want to move back to Russia.
Our attorneys in Russia can offer more information on the requirements related to obtaining residence permits. We can also advise Russian companies interested in hiring foreign specialists for whom work permits are necessary. You can also read about how to obtain a residence permit in Russia in 2021 in the infographic below:
How to Obtain a Residence Permit in Russia


Obtaining a temporary Russian residence permit

The temporary residence visa grants a foreign citizen the same social rights as any other Russian citizen. The temporary residence permit is issued for a period of three years, but it must be re-validated every year. Russian temporary residence permits are issued by the Federal Migration Service, and one must align with the procedures and formalities for 2021.
Foreign citizens with a temporary Russian residence permit are allowed to leave the country only after obtaining an exit and a re-entry Russian visa. In order to obtain a temporary residence permit, one must fulfill the following criteria:
  • the foreign citizens must have been born in Russia,
  • must have a Russian family member,
  • must be an investor doing business in Russia,
  • must have been enrolled in the Russian military service.
For information about the documents required to apply for a temporary residence permit in 2021, you may rely on our law firm in Russia.

Permanent Russian residence permits

The permanent residence permit is the first step to acquiring Russian citizenship. A Russian permanent residence permit may be obtained after holding a temporary residence visa for two years. The Russian permanent residence permit has a five-year validity period and can be extended without any limitation. However, just like the temporary residence visa, it must be authenticated on an annual basis. Also, foreign citizens holding a Russian permanent residence visa may leave the country without applying for other visas. Holders of permanent residence permits may work in Russia without a work permit.

Obtaining investor residence visa in Russia in 2021

In 2014, Russia entered the list of countries which enabled special programs for foreign investors seeking to relocate here. Also known as the business investment visa, the program provides for very advantageous conditions under which foreign entrepreneurs can obtain Russian residence permits based on investment. One must comply with the following requirements in order to obtain a Russian residence permit as an investor:
  • the minimum amount of money to be invested is 100,000 USD (this is one of the cheapest investment programs in the world);
  • the investment must be made in specific industries, among which oil and gas, agriculture, energy, medicine, information technology, and research and innovation;
  •  the money to be invested must derive from a legitimate source (proof of that is required by the authorities);
  •  the applicant must live in Russia for 90 days prior to applying for the investor residence permit.
Among the advantages of the Russian investor residence permit are the short processing time of approximately one month, the possibility of obtaining permanent residency after 3 years and the possibility of obtaining Russian citizenship after 5 years.
Our Russian law firm can help foreign investors who want to relocate here through a citizenship by investment program. We can explain the requirements and assist with the documentation to be filed with the immigration authorities.

Documents required for obtaining a Russian residence permit

No matter the type of residence permit a foreign citizen wants to acquire in Russia, he or she will need to submit the following documents with the immigration authorities:
  • an application form;
  • four passport-sized photos;
  • the valid passport;
  • proof of income (bank statement);
  • a health certificate indicating the applicant does not suffer from any contagious disease.
In the case of foreign citizens applying for permanent residency in Russia, the temporary residence permit is also required. Foreigners seeking to relocate to Russia with their children must also submit the children’s birth certificates. Our law firm in Russia can offer more information on the requirements related to applying for residence permits in the case of family members. The formalities for 2021 can be explained by our team.

FAQ on residence permits in Russia

Among the most frequently asked questions on residence permits in Russia are:
1. Does a Russian residence permit expire?
Yes, both temporary and permanent residence permits expire, however, they can be renewed for an unlimited number of times.
2. How long does it take to obtain a temporary residence permit in Russia?
It takes about 6 months for a temporary residence permit to be issued.
3. Can I open a company in Russia if I have a residence permit?
Yes, you are allowed to start a business in Russia based on a residence permit.
4. Can I work in Russia based on a residence permit?
Yes, you are allowed to work in Russia if you are a holder of a temporary or permanent residence visa.
5. Can I obtain citizenship in Russia if I have a residence permit?
You can obtain Russian citizenship based on a permanent residence permit.
A recent report issued by the World Bank places Russia second after the United States when it comes to immigration. Russia has received between 2012 and 2015 more than 12 million foreign citizens who have moved here due to economic reasons, despite the difficult laws on immigration. The main laws governing immigration in Russia are:
  • the Constitution;
  • the Federal Law on Citizenship, last amended in 2004;
  • the Federal Law on Refugees;
  • the Federal Law on the Legal Position of Foreign Citizens in Russia;
  • the Law of Forced Migrants.
Our Russian lawyers can offer information on all the laws mentioned above.

How can one immigrate to Russia in 2021?

Foreign citizens moving to Russia can do so by finding a job with a local company or by opening a company here. There are also special situations in which a foreign citizen can apply for asylum in Russia. However, in most cases labor migration is the main reason foreigners come to Russia. In this situation, the Russian company employing the foreign worker will handle the process for the foreigner to receive their employment pass. There are several types of visas the Russian Federation can issue:
  • student visas;
  • visas for teachers;
  • visas for diplomats and representatives of international organizations;
  • temporary visas, which also apply in the case of employees;
  • permanent residence permits.
According to the Russian Immigration Law, in order to gain permanent residency, one must first apply for a temporary residence permit. The last type of visa will be issued after the foreign citizen has lived in Russia for two years.

Obtaining citizenship in Russia

Foreign citizens living for five uninterrupted years in Russia are allowed to apply for citizenship, according to the Immigration Law. Russian citizenship can be acquired in one of the following ways:
The Russian Federation simplified the regulations under which foreign qualified individuals and investors can obtain citizenship, however, one must align with the 2021 formalities.
Considering Russian residence permits are issued based on an annual quota, you will first want to verify the number of visas issued. For other information about the immigration legislation, you can contact our lawyers in Russia.