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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More