Applying for Temporary (And Then Full) Residency… one Expat’s experience
This is the first of three articles, updated to reflect the current situation on residency as of September 2017. The articles will cover Temporary Residency, Permanent Residency, and getting ‘Individual Entrepreneur’ status.
A second series of three will address the inadequately-named ‘language tests’ for residency. Inadequate as the tests cover much more than language! More on that to come.
We’ve all been through the visa hoops and obstacles over the years. If you’re reading this in Russia then chances are these challenges are recent and real. One alternative to the visa regime is to consider the Temporary Residency in Russian known as ‘Pазрешения На Bременное Проживание’ (РвП) and then full Residency ‘Вид На Жительство’ application process. I’ve done this twice now and I have to say it’s a little easier, if you accept the centralisation of all things migration to the new facility (see below). Gone are the forbidding and slightly scary Soviet era battle-axes with the ‘They shall not pass’ mind-set. There are now some very capable people doing what appears to be a thankless and very labour intensive task. It’s not all good news however. You have to put in some effort, get up early and queue, be patient and answer the bureaucracy with immaculately prepared documentation. You may also have to make repeat visits. However once the treasured stamp is yours, you then get 3 years visa-free travel, coming and going as you please. So how do you go about getting РвП? Well, here’s my story, but first some caveats:
- I’m no expert on this, I’m just relaying my own experience.
- I know from talking to others that their experience does vary a little from mine.
- If you fail there is an appeals system and it’s not all automatic refusals.
Best to have native speaker support if you can get it. Mine came in the form of my good wife, without whose help I would have been still queuing now. This isn’t a specialist view, it’s a simplified one. If you want the full story, take a look at the FMS / MID web sites, listed below. The first thing to check, before organising your paperwork, is do you qualify? I’m writing this for the benefit of European expats and not for former Soviet Union citizens – they have different rules. You can qualify by ticking one or more of the following boxes;
- Being married to a Russian national.
- Being a parent or a child of a Russian national.
- Being here on a highly qualified specialist visa or the spouse of a specialist.
- Being an inward investor.
There are others, but these are the main ones.
First, some background.
Back in Q1 2016, the Interior Ministry took over the Migration Service. Reportedly, a 30% staff reduction was targeted as one of the ‘benefits’. What that means in reality is even slower processing time. Another feature was the creation of the ‘Multifunctional Migration Centre’ at Kilometre 60 out on Varshavskoe Schosse. A tiresome journey to a strange and different world. You need to prepare for several trips out there as it’s unlikely you will succeed in everything first time around.
So one of the first things to check is the Interior Ministry web site – https://мвд.рф. The requirements change from time to time so this is the best source. At the time of writing this it is necessary to provide the following documents. I’m adding some additional info here as there are some tricks to know. Let’s look at the documentation you have to provide:
A current passport with more than six months to run. In fact if you have less than a year to go then it’s probably better to renew it, as there’s a long time for this process to run, and when you get a new passport, you must have a new registration stamp, residency permit and visa put into the new one. You will also need 3 notarised copies of your passport with a translation.
At this point it’s probably worth mentioning that only Russian language documentation is accepted so all foreign language documents have to be translated and notarized. You’ll also need two 35 x 45mm photos, with the usual quality rules that all embassies now insist on.
Proof of income – a debatable point here. The MID web site does not list this as a requirement for Temporary Residency. However they do list it for Permanent Residency. I am sure that the migration inspector will ask for proof of income, so I would prepare to show it. You can also provide proof of income such as investment income or a pension. All income documentation needs to be translated into Russian and notarised.
Your registration document. If you own your one place, you will need your SVIDELTESVO document and a notarized copy of it. If you don’t own your own place, the bad news is that you’ll need your landlord with you. However if they’re a decent sort, that might be a help in pushing you up the queues.
You will also need your criminal record document from your home country. A word of warning for the Brits. There are 2 documents available, don’t get the wrong one! You need the full ‘ACPO’ document not the quick one which anyone can get. That also has to be apostilled. As a general note, an apostille is needed on all foreign government-issued or foreign institution-issued documents.
I found the best way to do this was get the ACPO record sent directly to a company called ‘Hague Apostille’. See their site www.hagueapostille.co.uk for details. You can do this on the Hague Apostille application form, and arrange express delivery service. This is important as you have a 3 month shelf life on all these documents. Once you go over the time limit you start again. Hague Apostille will then send the documents to you via DHL. You will then have to have the ACPO document and the apostille translated and notarised here in Moscow. As the lead time in getting this Criminal Record document sorted out is the longest, it’s better to get this document done sooner rather than later.
You will need a Spravka from your bank, although this is never an issue. Banks do this all the time.
The migration card you received at the passport control coming in is also necessary.
If you are married, you will need your marriage certificate. Mine is Russian but you may have a foreign language one. Unfortunately for you, it will have to be apostilled, translated, notarized… you are beginning to get the picture. Same with kids’ birth certificates.
Qualifications – It used to be the case that you had to provide your diploma or degree. These days it seems they’re not interested. I was told that for full residency, they don’t want it, but I’ve got it just in case. However, they do require you to take and pass a language proficiency test. What fun. In reality it’s not just a language test. You need a basic understanding of grammar, comprehension, writing, history, a little law and social studies. For the РвП it’s quite easy. However for full residency the pass mark is quite high at 80%. It shouldn’t be underestimated. You will need the original language certificate. However, full residency lasts for 5 years. There are now a number of commercial schools and some of the institutes offering courses for this. You can also find practice test papers on the internet. I will be writing a series of three articles on the Residency Examinations in the near future.
A word or two on the medical certificates you’ll need to get. There are the usual HIV and blood tests, confirming you’re not a junkie or alcoholic, plus a fluoroscan (maybe an X-ray at some older places) and a TB (Tubercolosis) test. There used to be, believe it or not, a leprosy test. Several hundred years since it was eradicated in UK, but yes you still had to be tested. That seems to have been scrapped. So you get 3 medical certificates, which you exchange for one, and that goes with your application. Foreign hospitals charge around 500 Euro for this. Russian hospitals charge a few hundred rubles. The state fee is 3,000 RUR. There is a list of 60 or so approved hospitals / clinics who are authorised to carry out testing.
Obviously too, you’ll need a completed application form. Personally I’d recommend you to get a Russian national to complete it. It’s used as a stone-walling device. It needs to be grammatically perfect. It also has weird quirks – one example is where your family members have to be listed in birthdate order. I made the cardinal error of listing them alphabetically and of course was rejected first time round. There is no guidance on the form. However in the migration service office there are guidance notes plastered over the walls. I simply photographed them. The state fee for the temporary residency is 1,600 RUR. I once had a quote from a company to do this, for $6,000. The most obvious comment I have is, why? These support companies can’t take the medicals for you, they can’t apply for your criminal record, they can’t take the language tests and they can’t gather all the rest of the paperwork. You have to do that. You also have to go to the Migration Centre in person, so you are paying $6,000 to have someone go there with you. Personally, I’m not that lonely and I’d rather have the money in my pocket not someone else’s. If your Russian isn’t up to it, I’m sure a translator or one of the good people from English language Facebook groups could be negotiated with.
Give it a couple of months or so and you can go to collect the temporary residence stamp in the passport, your new visa and a pair of very inky hands as a result of being finger printed. If you’re self-employed, you also have a Work Permit along with your residency, as a bonus. So there you have it. Yes it’s involved and you have to put some effort in, but you can do it for small money. On the other hand, you can pay someone to sit with you and pay a fortune! The article 333.28 tax code of the Russian Federation states that issuing a temporary residence permit is levied at a rate of 1,600 rubles. As always, you pay your money and take your pick. If you decide to go ahead, good luck and be patient….
Medical Centre ‘TRIAMED’ — one of the few medical organizations in the Moscow region, which has the right to conduct a medical examination and issue (on the territory of Moscow and Moscow region) documents certifying the absence of foreign citizens of infectious diseases and drug addiction (including certificate about absence of HIV-infection).
The list of authorized medical entities approved by the order of Ministry of health of the Moscow region no. 1890 from 15.12.2015 g. appears at this link.
Overview of the Multifunctional Migration Centre (Russian).
Interior Ministry pages for ‘Выдача разрешения на временное проживание’ – receiving Temporary Residence Permit’. https://мвд.рф/Deljatelnost/emvd/guvm/