News / Europe

Foreign Workers in Russia Face Sudden Red-Tape Barrier

Sudden enforcement of four-year-old visa statue may signal new Kremlin effort to discourage foreign presence in Russia

Foreign Workers in Russia Face Sudden Red-Tape Barrier
Foreign Workers in Russia Face Sudden Red-Tape Barrier

Russia has long been known for being the land of bureaucracy, but lately red tape has taken on a whole new meaning for foreign workers.  It is all because of a four-year-old law that is suddenly being enforced.

The line at the central migration office in Moscow is nearly out the door.  One can see the anxiety on people's faces as they approach the window.

Most foreign workers accept that they have a daunting task to obtain a visa and maintain their legal status in Russia.  For example, forms must be filled out in triplicate with the proper signatures, and government forms can change on a weekly basis, without notice.  Fill out a wrong form and your visa is denied.

Every foreigner must register with the central migration office within three days of arriving in Russia.  If they fail to do so, they are issued an exit visa.  Furthermore, foreigners with a work visa have to let the migration office know if they are leaving the city they are authorized to work in, failure to do so could result in a fine, arrest or both.

If that is not enough to worry about, a newly enforced, existing law requires foreign workers to get their college diplomas notarized in the country where they received them, and then get a stamp from that country's foreign ministry.

An official stamp is often used by governments as proof that an important document or a signature is real.  It is usual for many countries to require these stamps for things such as medical certificates or legal documents, but not college diplomas.

German Robert Zellner has been working for an international hotel chain in Moscow for nearly three years.

"Now, all of a sudden I have to fly to the United States, where I went to college, and get my diploma stamped and double stamped, in order to keep my own job?  Who is gonna pay for this?" Zellner asked.

Moscow-based political analyst Mascha Lipman of the Carnegie Center, says she thinks the recent enforcement of the obscure law is just the government's way of making it difficult for foreign workers to stay in Russia.

"These recent hurdles have to do with historic, traditional Russian xenophobia.  Suspicion of people, from abroad, coming to Russia doing something in Russia.  This has to do with the Soviet experience.  This was a closed country in which people could not leave or come freely," Lipman said.

Zellner agrees and says he feels the government is trying to weed out foreigners.

"I was given very little notice that I needed to get this stupid stamp.  I mean, I just cannot leave the country and do a stamp run.  But I could lose my job if they do not give me enough time," Zellner said.

And, he could face some trouble meeting the requirement. Stamps often take up to eight weeks to get.  Scotland native Euan Crawford says he was only given two weeks notice.  He is vice president of an accounting firm in Moscow.

"It got to the point that the office was considering buying me a degree from a university in eastern Russia, because it was going to be cheaper than getting my degree certificate to the notary and then getting it apostulated, and then getting it to Russia," Crawford said.

Human Rights Watch Moscow office director Allison Gill says the law is being enforced now because Russia does not need foreign experience like it used to.  

"You know, there was a time in the early '90s when a foreign worker was actually sought out; particularly in business, in consulting and finance.  Then as the Russian economy got more on its feet and Russia resurged in all kinds of ways the pendulum swung the other way," Gill said.

Zellner agrees, he says he is regularly reminded his Russian boss prefers to work with her fellow countrymen.

"I cannot tell you how many times I have been told that Russia is for Russians and that we are taking their jobs.  They do not really want us," Zellner said.

Russian officials say they are not trying to harass foreign workers.  They say the diploma certification requirement is a way for foreign workers to prove they are qualified for the job.  

There is some suggestion Russian authorities may be easing up a bit on what many analysts say is their unwelcoming stance.  President Dmitry Medvedev recently encouraged authorities to be more hospitable to foreign workers, and hinted at easing visa regulations within the next year.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs