By: Ivo van Rhijn
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A permanent residence permit for Russia
In this post I discuss the merits of the permanent residence permit for Russia (Вид На Жительство). It is a sequel to my blog post about the temporary residence permit (Разрешение на Временное Проживание). For the most part the information in these two posts is inextricably bound up with each other, so I urge you to read them both.
- Legal Definitions
- Transition from temporary to permanent residence
- No territorial limitations
- What is very confusing
- Who is eligible for a permanent residence permit for Russia?
- After having obtained a permanent residence permit, will I now lead a carefree existence without any problems with the Russian bureaucracy?
- What about compulsory military service?
- How long does the procedure take?
- Final words
‘Permanent residence permit’ is not a literary translation of the Russian term, which, in my opinion, is rather vague. A better term would be permission to permanently reside in Russia, but since ‘permanent residence’ is a common term, I will stick with it.
The permanent residence permit provided the holder of it with a right to permanently reside in the territory of the Russian Federation for a maximum period of 5 years. The permanent aspect is that, unlike a temporary residence permit, it can be extended indefinitely.
The legislators call foreigners with a permanent residence permit ‘permanent residents’ (постоянно проживающие). A foreigner with a temporary residence permit is called a ‘temporary resident’ (временно проживающий). All references to legal articles in this blog post refer to the Law on the Rights of Foreign Citizens in Russia, (Федеральный закон от 25.07.2002 N 115-ФЗ “О правовом положении иностранных граждан в Российской Федерации”), unless specifically stated otherwise.
Transition from temporary to permanent residence
I have indicated that I am not a big supporter of the temporary residence permit because of the many restrictions it involves. There is, however, an important advantage attached to the temporary residence permit: it brings the possibility to subsequently apply for a permanent residence permit. Although the temporary residence permit is issued for 3 years, you can apply for a permanent residence permit after only 1 year (Article 8, paragraph 2). A temporary resident can file the application for a permanent residence permit no later than six months before the expiration of his temporary residence permit (Article 8). If he does not do this, or not on time, he will have to apply for a temporary residence permit again.
No territorial limitations
A permanent residence permit is attractive because the territorial restrictions that apply to the temporary residence permit do not apply to the permanent residence permit. This means that a permanent resident can live and work anywhere in Russia (with the exception of the so-called closed cities, for the visit of which separate permission is required).
The Russian legislation on permanent residence permits is complicated and confusing. The rules relating to the eligibility for a permanent residence permit differ for different categories of persons who want to obtain this document. In fact, it would have been more logical if the legislator had used different kinds of permits to clearly distinguish these different groups or categories . But that did not happen. To avoid even greater confusion, I follow the terminology of the Russian legislator.
Who is eligible for a permanent residence permit for Russia?
- The first category is persons who, on the basis of art. 8 paragraph 1, have lived for at least 1 year on the basis of a temporary residence permit in Russia. This is the ‘basic category’. This variant is usually meant when people are referring to a permanent residence permit.
- A second category is people who hold an HQS work permit, on the grounds of Article 8 paragraph 3.1 subsection 1, they do not first have to apply for a temporary residence permit before they are eligible to apply for a permanent one. However, the permanent residence permit for an HQS holder will only be valid for the duration of his work permit (ie a maximum of 3 years), and to have the permanent residence permit extended, someone who has chosen this route must first apply for a new HQS work permit. Therefore, if an HQS holder wants a permanent residence permit that falls under the same conditions of the basic category in point 1, he will first have to apply for a temporary residence permit according to the same procedures that apply to others.
- Third of all, there is another category for native speakers of the Russian language (those who use the language daily in family and cultural spheres), according to Article 33.1 of the Nationality Act of the Russian Federation (N 62-ФЗ of 31.05.2002). The permanent residence permit that they can obtain is valid for 3 years, pursuant to article 8, paragraph 3.3, instead of 5 years.
- And fourthly, there are the ‘compatriots’ who came to Russia in the context of government policy to encourage ‘compatriots’ to voluntarily move to Russia (as recorded in Decree N 637 of 26 June 2006 by the Russian President). The term ‘compatriots’ is broadly defined in Article 1 of the Federal Law N 99-ФЗ of 24 May 1999, the “Law on the Policy of the Russian Federation concerning compatriots abroad”. In addition to the more traditional meaning of this term, people who traditionally live in the territory of the Russian Federation and who have made a free choice for spiritual, cultural and legal ties with the Russian Federation also qualify as compatriots. The residence permit obtained on this basis is valid for the same period as the certificate provided within the context of this policy (Article 8, paragraph 3.4).
After having obtained a permanent residence permit, will I now lead a carefree existence without any problems with the Russian bureaucracy?
No definitely not.
Your permanent residence permit can be canceled if you do not fulfill your obligations, such as:
- Not informing the authorities (in time) about your place of residence. On the basis of art. 8 paragraph 6 , a permanent resident should inform the authorities who have provided him with his permanent residence permit about his whereabouts in Russia. This should be done before the end of each calendar year, following the year in which he received his documents.
- Not informing the authorities about your income. You can do this on the basis of an income tax statement from the employer. The salary stated on this may not be less than the minimum wage. Other acknowledgments of income sources are also allowed, for example a judgment in which alimony is assigned to you.
If you do not have any income you have to prove that you have enough resources to support yourself. This can be done by showing a bank statement, which shows that you have at least 192 thousand rubles (minimum wage x 12) in a bank deposit. In practice, people often borrow money to meet this requirement, so this requirement cannot be called very effective.
- Spending more than six months outside Russia in the past year. Now this, of course, raises the question: six months in a row or in total more than 6 months? The legislator is not clear about this. In general, the interpretation is six months in a row. But beware, some regional migration authorities have been known to add up several periods within a year that a permanent resident has spent abroad,and if this adding results in a period of more than 6 months spent abroad, they cancel the permanent residence permit. Even though there is jurisprudence that has overturned such decisions, it would of course be best to avoid such situations by checking the policy of the migration authorities in the region where you want to apply for your permanent residence permit.
And so, if you don’t want to lose your permanent residence permit, you shouldn’t be outside of Russia for longer than 6 months.
What about compulsory military service?
How long does the procedure take?
As far as category 1 is concerned, it is nice that the restrictions that apply to temporary residents don’t apply to permanent residents. The fact that the permanent residence permit can in principle be renewed indefinitely without ultimately having to take Russian nationality, can be attractive for people who feel a certain emotional bond with Russia but don’t want to acquire nationality.
With regard to category 2, the HQS, the holder can stay in Russia for 3 years and can travel in and out without restrictions (provided his passport was valid long enough upon application).
Therefore, I see little added value for him to obtain a permanent residence permit, unless he intends to eventually become a Russian citizen.
As I indicated, it is confusing that there are different types of permanent residence permits, while no distinction is made in the legal terminology.
If an HQS holder wishes to obtain a category one permanent residence permit, he will first have to apply for a temporary residence permit. And of course, that is really only realistic if in his case no quotas are needed for this.