James W. Meng

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Units: Foreword 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 17.7 17.8


Migration in the Russian Legal Context.
17.1. How is the Russian state organized?

The state is the political organization of a society. Typical signifiers of a state are territory, governing authorities, a population, distinct sovereignty, legislation (constitution, laws, and other legal acts), a capital, citizenship, state symbols (flag, crest, and anthem), a territorial border, a monetary system, taxes, and an army.

The Russian Federation is a state located in Europe and Asia. Russia is one of the republics of the former USSR; its present-day population is approximately 143 million people. Its capital is Moscow, with a population of approximately 12 million people.

The basic law of the Russian Federation is its Constitution, adopted on December 12, 1993. The Constitution of the Russian Federation sets out the most important matters of state: the foundations of the country's constitutional structure; the basic rights, freedoms and duties of persons and citizens including those of foreign citizens and stateless persons; the federal structure; the system of various public authorities; and the foundations of local self-government. Under the Constitution, the Russian Federation is a sovereign, democratic, federal, legal, social, secular state with separation of powers and a republican form of government.

The sovereign nature of the Russian state means that Russia maintains full independence in conducting its domestic and foreign policy. Through its constitution and laws, the state establishes mandatory rules of conduct for all people located on its territory. The state has the right to enforce these rules and apply measures of responsibility to those who violate them.

The democratic nature of the Russian state means that power belongs to the people in Russia. The people exercise their power by voting in elections and referendums, through bodies of state power and through local self-government.

The federal nature of the Russian state means that Russia is constituted of 83 federal subjects: the cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, 21 republics, 9 territories, 46 regions, 1 autonomic region, and 4 autonomous districts.

References to the legal state, meanwhile, mean that in Russia, the authorities act strictly according to the requirements of the Constitution and other laws; and that the main responsibility of the state is to protect human rights and freedoms. References to the social state mean that Russia is obliged to create and develop conditions under which the human rights to protect health, to medical care, to education, housing, social security, family and children are protected. References to the secular state mean that in Russia, there is no official, state religion; no creed is recognized as manditory or preferred; religious associations do not influence the exercise of state power; religious teachings are not offered in schools or other educational institutions; and people can freely adhere to any religion or be atheist.

References to separation of powers signify that in Russia, there are three groups of public authorities that act independently of each other: legislative bodies, executive bodies, and the judiciary.

References to a republic signify the organization of the Russian government in such a way that the most important state bodies (the President, the State Duma, and legislative bodies of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation) are elected by the people for a limited term.

In Russia, there are federal bodies of state authorities as well as bodies of state authorities within the individual federal subjects of the Russian Federation.

The head of state is the President of the Russian Federation. As of this writing, the President of the Russian Federation is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

The official name for the Russian parliament is the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. It consists of two chambers - the State Duma and the Federation Council. The parliament passes laws.

Federal executive bodies include the Government of the Russian Federation, and its ministries, services, and agencies. The Federal Migration Service is also an executive body.

The bodies of the judiciary are courts of general jurisdiction, the arbitration courts, and the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.

The bodies of state power of each federal consitutional entity of the Russian Federation are the head (governor) of each federal subject, that federal subject's legislative body, and its executive bodies. For example, the state authorities in Moscow include the Mayor of Moscow, the Moscow City Duma, and the Government of Moscow. As of this writing, the Mayor of Moscow is Sergey Semyonovich Sobyanin. At the local level, beyond the public authorities, municipal self-government bodies also exist.

According to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the official state language is Russian. It is used in the activities of all organs of power, organizations and institutions; in lawsuits; in documents; on television, on radio, in newspapers; and in relations between authorities and foreign citizens. It is also the language in which the official texts of all laws and other legal acts are published.

17.2. Migrants and their legal status in Russia.

When we speak of "migration", we refer to the movement of people from one country to another for various reasons. In the modern world, migration is an inevitable, mass phenomenon. Migration may be voluntary, necessary, or forced - but the majority of people voluntarily leave their country and move to a new place of work or residence on the territory of another state. Following the deconstruction of the Soviet Union into constituent nations in 1991, millions of people left former Soviet republics for Russia and other countries in search of professional opportunities or for permanent residence. Currently, Russia holds second place in the world after the United States in terms of the size of its immigrant population.

Citizens of other countries and stateless persons who come to Russia in search of work or for permanent residence are called "migrants" or "immigrants". Migrants should, upon arrival, have an international passport issued by the relevant authorities of their country. Migrants engaged in labor activities in Russia are known as labor migrants. Illegal migrants are those who have either violated the rules of entry to Russia, or who do not have documents that establish their right to reside in Russia, or who have lost their documents that establish their right to reside in Russia and have not applied to the Federal Migration Service for assistance, or who have overstayed the stipulated time limitations of their documents.

For those who are legitimately and legally located in Russia, migrants are divided into three groups: those who have arrived on terms of temporary stay; those who hold temporary residency permits; and those who hold permanent residency permits.

Migrants who have arrived on terms of temporary stay are those who have either arrived in Russia on the basis of a visa or on the basis of an international passport and citizenship of a country that does not require a visa for travel to Russia, and who have received a migration card, but do not have a permanent residency permit or a temporary residency permit.

Migrants who are considered to have arrived in Russia as temporary residents are those who have obtained a temporary residency permit (разрешение на временное проживание - РВП).

Migrants who are considered permanent residents are those who have obtained a permanent residency permit (вид на жительство - ВНЖ).

While every migrant benefits from a range of rights and freedoms on the territory of Russia, they also must fulfill certain responsibilities. If a migrant violates the rules established in Russia, they can be held responsible. Rights, freedoms, and responsibilities of migrants in Russia are established by the 1993 Constitution of Russia, international treaties, the federal law "On the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation" of 25 July 2002, the federal law "On the Procedure for Exit and Entry into the Russian Federation" of 15 August 1996, the federal law "On Migration Registration of Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons in the Russian Federation" of 18 July 2006, the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Violations, the laws of the subjects of the Russian Federation (for example, the City of Moscow) and many others. Migrants should know the rules that they must observe while in Russia. Russia is interested only in migrants who observe the norms of behavior established under Russian legislation.

17.3. How can migrants arrange to move to and live in Russia?

Depending on the country whose citizenship a migrant holds, migrants may enter Russia under visa-free or visa-required conditions. With many countries, including several countries of the former Soviet Union (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) the Russian Federation maintains international treaties for visa-free travel of citizens. Upon presenting an international passport of a state that maintains visa-free travel with Russia upon entry, these citizens may fill out a migration card and enter Russia.

Migrants who have legally entered and live in Russia are divided into three groups: temporarily staying, temporarily residing, and permanently residing. When a migrant enters Russia through a visa-free regime, the first regime - temporary stay - applies. The term of temporary stay in Russia is at most 90 days; before this period expires, the migrant is obligated to leave Russia. The term of temporary stay can be extended when the migrant is issued a work permit or a patent, or when the validity period of a work permit or patent is extended.

Migrants may also obtain a temporary residency permit. These permits are issued by the Federal Migration Service. The validity period of a temporary residency permit is three years. To obtain a temporary residency permit, migrants must submit an application for a temporary residency permit to the Federal Migration Service, along with the international passport issued by their country of citizenship and with which the migrant entered the Russian Federation; a completed migration card registered and stamped at the point of entry to the Russian Federation; a receipt for payment of the state fee for the issuance of a temporary residency permit; a medical clearance certificate confirming the absence of a drug addiction and infectious diseases that pose a threat to others, as well as a medical clearance certificate confirming the absence of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); and a certificate on the registration of this migrant with the tax authorities. Annotations of receipt of an application for a temporary residency permit are typically stamped on the migration card.

If a migrant plans to live and work in Russia for an extended period of time, and has already lived in Russia for at least one year on a temporary residency permit, then during the validity term of the temporary residency permit a permanent residency permit may be issued. Permanent residency permits are also issued by the Federal Migration Service; applications for permanent residency permits should be submitted by migrants to the relevant territorial office of the Federal Migration Service no later than six months before the expiry of the temporary residency permit. Permanent residency permits are issued to migrants for five years; at the end of this period, the residency permit may be extended for another five years upon a subsequent application.

The Federal Migration Service may cancel or decline to issue both temporary and permanent residency permits if the migrant in question advocates for forcible change of the fundamentals of the constitutional structure of the Russian government or through other activities creates a threat to the security of Russia or to its citizens; finances, plans, assists in, commits, or otherwise assists in terrorist or extremist acts; submits false or forged documents or otherwise deliberately reports false personal information in a residency permit application; has been convicted for a serious crime; or repeatedly (twice or more) within one year has been held responsible for an administrative offense related to encroachment on public order and safety, or for violating the migration rules applicable to foreign citizens in the Russian Federation or the procedure for their employment on Russian territory; or has committed an administrative offense related to illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs; or on other grounds.

In cases where a temporary or permanent residency permit is revoked, the migrant in question is required to leave the Russian Federation within fifteen days from the date of its revocation. Any migrant to not fulfill this responsibility is subject to deportation; deportation is carried out by the Federal Migration Service in coordination with police.

17.4. What rights and responsibilities do migrants have in Russia?

The Constitution and legislative apparatus of Russia govern the personal, economic, social and cultural rights and freedoms of migrants. Migrants do not have political rights. They do not have the right to participate in elections or referendums, or to be members of political parties. Political rights belong only to Russian citizens.

The personal rights and freedoms of migrants, as protected by the Russian state, include the right to life; the right to individual dignity; the right to liberty and personal security; the right to privacy; the right to defend one's honor and good name; the right to inviolability of the home; the right to freedom of movement and choice of place of residence; the right to freedom of conscience and reliion; the right to freedom of thought and speech; the right to information; the right to association; the right to marry and to found a family; the right to acquire Russian citizenship; and the right to protect one's rights and freedoms.

The economic rights and freedoms of migrants include: the right to freely use their abilities and property for entrepreneurial and other economic activities not prohibited by law; the right to own property, use, and dispose of it; the right to inheritance; the right to freely manage and develop their work aptitudes; and the right to freely choose their profession and activities associated with it.

The social rights and freedoms of migrants include: the right to state social benefits in the cases established by laws; the right to health care and medical assistance; the right to a favorable surrounding environment; and the right to education.

The cultural rights and freedoms of migrants include: freedom of literary, artistic, scientific, technical and other forms of creativity; the right to participate in cultural life, to the use of cultural institutions, and to access public monuments of culture.

In order to live and work peacefully and comfortably in Russia among others, migrants must carry out certain responsibilities. These responsibilities are enshrined in the Constitution, in federal laws, the laws of the subjects of the Russian Federation and in many other legal acts. And they are divided into three groups: constitutional duties; duties common to all people, enshrined in other laws; and special duties, applicable only to migrants.

Constitutional duties include: compliance with the Russian Constitution and laws; respect for the rights and freedoms of others; the duty of parents to care for and educate their children; the duty of able-bodied children of 18 or higher to care for incapacitated parents; the duty to care for the preservation of historical and cultural heritage, to preserve monuments of history and culture; the duty to pay legally established taxes and fees; and the duty to preserve nature and the environment, relating carefully to natural resources.

Common duties include a wide variety of items addressed by laws, for example, rules on anti-smoking laws in public places, or rules on not disturbing the peace at night.

Special duties applicable only to migrants include: the obligation to obtain and fill out a migration card upon entry into the Russian Federation; the duty to observe the terms of stay in Russia; the obligation to maintain an health insurance policy; the duty to have funds for residence on the territory of the Russian Federation and subsequent departure from the Russian Federation; the obligation to hand over a migration card to an official of the border control agency at the checkpoint across the border upon departure from the Russian Federation; and the obligation to leave the Russian Federation in the event of a reduction in the period of residence or temporary stay, or in the event of the cancellation of a temporary residency permit or permanent residency permit.

17.5. How can a migrant work in Russia legally?

Migrants can work legally in Russia if they meet three conditions: legal residence in Russia, age eighteen or greater, and possession of a work permit or patent. Migrants who plan to work in an organization need a work permit; migrants who plan to work for private individuals need a patent.

Work permits are issued by territorial officies of the Federal Migration Service on the basis of a migrant's application. Along with the application, each migrant must submit a document certifying their identity; a migration card bearing a border control stamp upon entry to Russia; a receipt for payment of the related state fee; and an employment contract or civil law contract for the completion of work, executed in accordance with Russian law. When the migrant submits such a contract, the employer or customer details the migrant has supplied are entered into the work permit issued.

Work permits are issued to migrants either for the length of their period of temporary stay, or for the validity period of the applicable labor contract - but not for more than one year from the date of the migrant's entry to Russia. If a work permit is issued for a period of more than 90 days, the migrant is obligated within 30 days to submit documents to the territorial office of the Federal Migration Service confirming the absence of a drug addiction and infectious diseases that pose a threat to others, as well as a medical clearance certificate confirming the absence of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Additionally, to work in housing and communal services, retail trade or consumer services, migrants must be able to speak the Russian language at a level no lower than the basic level of Russian language proficiency as assessed by the state testing certificate system in accordance with established procedures.

Migrants receiving work permits are also subject to compulsory fingerprinting and photography for addition to government databases.

Migrants who have entered Russia on terms of temporary stay are not permitted to work unless issued a work permit. On the other hand, migrants who reside in Russia on temporary residency permits or permanent residency permits can work without a work permit. However, migrants who reside in Russia on temporary residency permits are not permitted to work outside the territorial subject in which they have been permitted temporary residence.

Migrants who obtain patents on or after the age of eighteen may engage in labor activity for hire by Russian citizens on the basis of an employment contract or a civil law contract for the performance of work for personal, domestic, and other needs legally located in Russia, if unrelated to entrepreneurial activities.

Migrants can legally obtain patents by submitting an application to the relevant territorial office of the Federal Migration Service, along with a document certifying the identity of the migrant and a migration card indicating the date and point of entry to Russia. Migrants who have previously worked in Russia on a patent must provide documentation verifying the payment of applicable taxes for the previous employment period, and information on the types of labor activities in which they were previously engaged.

Patents are issued for periods of one to three months. Patents can also be repeatedly extended for periods as long as three months at a time. Including renewals, the total validity period of an individual patent may be not longer than 12 months from the date of the initial grant of the patent. Patents grant the right for a migrant to carry out their professional activities within the territory of the Russian federal subject in which it was issued.

Migrants who undertake labor activities in the Russian Federation without a work permit or patent can be punished with an administrative fine in the amount of 2000 to 5000 rubles, as well as with administrative deportation. For such violations committed in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, or the Moscow or Saint Petersburg regions, the fine is raised to 5000 to 7000 rubles and administrative deportation may also be applicable.

17.6. How should migrants interact with representatives of state and municipal authorities?

In Russia, migrants - throughout the performance of their duties and exercise of their rights - may be in regular contact with representatives of state and municipal bodies. Most often, migrants interact with representatives of the Federal Migration Service and police.

The Federal Migration Service is the primary state body responsible for many points of interaction with migrants. Representatives of the Federal Migration Service issue migrants with work permits, patents, temporary residency permits (разрешение на временное проживание), and permanent residency permits (вид на жительство). They also register migrants, issue decisions on administrative refusal of residence, and deport migrants. Migrants are obligated to fulfill the requirements expressed by representatives of the Federal Migration Service.

The police in Russia are tasked with protecting the lives, health, rights and freedoms of Russian citizens, foreign citizens, and stateless persons; and to counter crime, protect public order and property, and ensure public safety. Police will immediately come to the aid of anyone requiring protection from criminal and other unlawful attacks; a police officer is obliged to prevent actions by which a person intentionally inflicts pain, physical, or moral suffering. Police officers are prohibited from resorting to torture, violence, and other cruel or degrading treatment.

In interacting with a police officer, migrants must be willing to discuss their professional status, name and surname, listen attentively, make appropriate corrective measures as requested within the limits of their ability, and may clarify details of the enquiring officer and the question posed. Police officers, when interacting with migrants, are required to state their position, rank, surname, present their service identification and then inform the migrant of the reason and purpose of the appeal. In the case of measures that restrict rights and freedoms of the migrant, the reason and grounds for the application of such measures must be explained as well as the rights and duties of the citizen in connection with those measures. If a crime is committed against a migrant, he must contact the police.

Police, in their interactions with migrants, have the following basic rights: they may demand the immediate cessation of illegal acts; they may check identification documents at any time; they may demand that individuals leave the scene of a crime or administrative offense; they may require that individuals accompany them to a police station in order to resolve an issue, if it cannot be resolved on the spot; they may carry out inspections and searches of individuals and their personal belongings; they may detain individuals who are suspected of committing a crime; and, when necessary, they may use physical force, special forms of weapons and other equipment, and firearms.

The Russian Criminal Code addresses crimes involving threats on the life of a law enforcement officer, the use of violence against a representative of the authorities, and the use of verbal profanity against a representative of the authorities.

17.7. How can migrants avoid violating Russian laws?

Migrants' responsibilities under Russian law. Related information.

Migrants in Russia are obligated to observe the requirements of the Russian Constitution, all laws and other rules established by legal acts. Migrants especially must know the rules for entry into and departure from Russia for migrants; the rules of arrival and residence for migrants in Russia; the rules for the implementation of migrant workers in Russia; and acts prohibited under the administrative and criminal legislation of Russia. Migrants who know and respect these rules may live and work in Russia.

Migrants who violate Russian law can be held legally responsible. Legal responsibility in such cases is the duty of a migrant to undergo the personal or property deprivation that is stipulated under law. This legal responsibility may be administrative or criminal.

Violations incurring administrative liability are set out in the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses and Laws on Administrative Offenses Adopted in the Subjects of the Russian Federation.

The administrative offenses most typically committed by migrants are the following: violation of the rules of entry into the Russian Federation or the arrival and residence regime in the Russian Federation; illegal employment in the Russian Federation; violation of immigration rules; and non-compliance with restrictions on the types of professional activities permitted to migrants.

In response to administrative offenses committed by migrants, the following administrative penalties may be applied: a warning; an administrative fine; confiscation of the instrument of commission or subject of an administrative offense; deprivation of a special right granted to an individual; administrative arrst; or administrative expulsion from the Russian Federation.

Violations incurring criminal liability are set out in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. These actions are called crimes. For example - murder; the threat of murder; deliberate harm to human health; kidnapping; unlawful deprivation of liberty; use of slave labor; rape; theft; robbery; extortion; giving bribes. These listed acts are recognized as crimes and punished in all modern nations.

When crimes are committed, courts prescribe sentencing: fines compulsory work, corrective work, restriction of freedom, forced labor, arrest, deprivation of liberty for a specified period, and life imprisonment.

17.8. How do migrants protect their rights?

Who can offer assistance to migrants in protecting their rights? Related information.

In the Russian Federation, the recognition, observation, and protection of rights and freedoms of the individual are constitutional duties of the state (Article II of the Constitution of the Russian Federation). As follows from the interrelated provisions of Articles 10, 17 (parts 1 and 2) and 18 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, this duty is due in all activities of all government bodies, both federal and constituent entities of the Russian Federation. All organs of the state are obligated to carry out the unhindered exercise of human rights and freedoms, to secure and protect them, and to create for them a legal, social, and economic basis. In accordance with Article 45 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, state protection of human rights and freedoms in the Russian Federation is guaranteed. In the protection of these rights and freedoms, state bodies representing all branches of power - legislative, executive, and judicial - within the spheres accorded to them under the Constitution of the Russian Federation, federal laws and other normative legal acts take part. State bodies protect their rights and freedoms by their own, specific means.

Those responsible for the rights of migrants include the courts, the prosecutor's office, the police, the Ombudsman for Human Rights in Russia, the Ombudsman for Human Rights in Moscow, lawyers, and other public organizations. Embassies (diplomatic missions) and consulates of the states of citizenship of migrants are also obliged to provide their citizens with legal and other assistance.

Migrants may protect their rights and freedoms themselves. For example, they can appeal to courts and to the media. They may also protect their right to life and health when attacked by a criminal. In such cases it is also permissible to harm the offender - this is considered necessary self-defense.

A migrant can appeal the decisions of a territorial body of the Federal Migration Service by appealing to a federal body of the Federal Migration Service or to a court, for example, in cases wherein migrants have been refused a temporary residence permit (РВП) or a work permit.