Residency in Russia – ‘Bид на Жительство’ (Residence Permit)
Following on from last month’s Temporary Residency story, here is a much-updated article on the next stage – the full Residency (Вид на жительство) application process. Compared to previous experiences, this is now a much improved and streamlined procedure. My usual caveat applies to this article – this is a reflection of my own experiences and the result of research and translation of public domain information, mostly in the Russian language. I’m not talking about the quota system, stateless people applications and so on. In this context, you may find it useful to read my other articles in the ‘How To’ section of this site.
If you’re going for this, then you’re probably a pretty seasoned individual who has been around the Moscow track a few times, so I’m not writing this as a beginner’s guide. Many expatriates these days are coming around to the idea of residency, as it saves a lot of money on visas, having to leave and return, not to mention the hassle regarding work permits. Moscow (and possibly Russian in general) employers are also recognising the benefits of employing people like me who have residency. Residents are outside the restrictive quota rules, and of course there is a significant overhead cost saving for the employer.
In you have Individual Entrepreneur status, so much the better. More about that in the next article.
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 meant in reality was even slower processing time, especially in the beginning. 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 will probably know this place if you already have temporary residency. Here are a few pictures here to illustrate, but they don’t give you the sheer size and scale of the operation.
So one of the first things to check is the Interior Ministry web site – https://мвд.рф Their requirements change from time to time, so this is the best source.
Documentation requirements are different depending on the migration category that you find yourself in.
The second thing to check is the Moscow City Hall site, www.mos.ru . It’s all in Russian, of course, but you’ve studied hard for your language certificate, and it’s not going to be a problem for you is it? J
This site walks you through a process map to determine what you need to do and what you need to submit. This will be great on-line service in the future, if they add some additional functionality and a method to complete all of the process on-line. At the moment, it’s only the process map and the application form.
Third (optional) thing to do, is go and talk to the Interior Ministry (FMS) people at your local Мои документы offices. My experiences here have only ever been good – however I have heard others have suffered the usual bureaucratic hassles.
So let’s define Permanent Residency:
Permanent Residency, called ‘вид на жительство’ (vid na zhitelstvo) in Russian, allows a foreign citizen to reside permanently in the Russian Federation. The holder also has the right of free entry to, and exit from, the Russian Federation. Once a foreign citizen becomes a permanent resident, he or she can work in Russia without a special permit. Permanent residency for most people means never having to go through the hassle of getting a visa again. Permanent residency can be issued once you’ve lived in Russia under a temporary residence permit for one year, and is granted for a period of five years. This can be renewed indefinitely or eventually one may apply for citizenship.
Without obtaining a temporary residence permit, a residence permit may be issued to highly qualified professionals and their families, and also to certain other categories of foreign citizens, in accordance with article 33.1 of the Federal law of May 31, 2002 N 62-FZ ‘On Citizenship of the Russian Federation’.
There are some important timing issues to be aware of as well:
Applications for a residence permit must be submitted no later than six months before the expiry of the temporary residence permit, and no earlier than six months from the date of issue of the temporary residence permit.
‘…The decision on granting or refusal of a residence permit has to be taken within a period not exceeding 6 months from the date of submission of the application, but not earlier than one year from the date of receipt of the temporary residence permit.’
Honestly, I wouldn’t go for this if my passport had less than 12-18 months to go. I’d renew my passport first, then begin the application process.
At this point, I should also mention the Russian language test. I think that a ‘language test’ not exactly an exhaustive description, as the test covers language, history, legal and socio-economic topics. The minimum pass level is 80%. Personally I found it a challenge, but on successful completion you will be given a certificate. Be aware that the certificate has to say ‘вид на жительство’ on it. The language certificate for ‘Разрешение на временное проживание’ (Temporary Residency) is a lower standard and is not acceptable for the full residency application. The migration agent specifically checks for that.
There are a number of institutes and commercial schools offering courses and hosting the examinations. I did mine in a teacher training college, but I think it’s best to find a tutor/school you’re comfortable with. I am going to write a future series of 3 articles on the exams in the future.
Back to the process…
There is an initial payment to be made of 3,500 roubles for the government fee. This must be done through Sberbank. Interestingly, the Mos.ru web site says the fee is 2000 roubles. I suspect that doesn’t include the medical fees.
You next need to organise your medical tests – I wrote about this at length in the Temporary Residency piece, and it’s the same deal. This is also a much improved process.
There is no longer a need to submit your Degree/Diploma, and, even better, they don’t ask for your home country criminal record. That was an expensive and tedious process, so great that it’s no longer needed.
Documents required for the receipt of a residence permit.
In order to receive a residence permit, you will need the following documents – but you could be asked for more.
- Application form. I won’t post it here, as it is probably subject to change and if you submit the wrong form, it’s useless. Download it from the мвд.рф web site.
- Four photos, size 35 x 45 mm in black and white or color with a clear image of the face full face without headgear, etc., – usual passport style rules apply.
- Identity document – this really means passport for most people.
- A document certifying the existence of a legitimate source of income, which allows you to maintain yourself in Russia above the subsistence minimum.
- Your apartment ownership documents or your rental contract.
- A document issued by an authorized agency of public health of Russian Federation, confirming the absence of disease and infectious diseases.
- Certificate of absence of disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
- Document confirming your knowledge of Russian, knowledge of Russian history and the basic legislation of the Russian Federation – this will be the subject of a future article.
- Proof of payment from your Sberbank receipt.
Useful additional Information
You need to get a notarised copy of your passport with a Russian translation. Your passport should also have your correct registration stamp, of course. If your passport has less than 12-18 months validity, forget it and get a new passport first.
Marriage Certificate. Here’s an interesting point. I submitted mine as part of the application process, but on the мвд.рф web site, the marriage certificate is not listed as a requirement any more. At the time of writing this (September 2017) I’ve not been able to confirm if it’s been dropped, or if there’s an error on the site. Similarly, on the Мои документы pages, it’s not listed there either. It looks like they are no longer asking for marriage certificates – but please verify that for yourself.
You need 2 copies of your RVP (Разрешение на временное проживание) page from your passport.
Your Russian language certificate can only be for full residency – provide a photocopy of that.
The Federal Migration Service, when they granted you the temporary residency, will have asked for proof of address and proof of income after one year. They will have given you a Spravka (bank statement), which is your declaration of income and proof of address. You will need to provide this document now.
Proof of income or a Spravka from the bank showing that you have 216,000 roubles or more in the bank. On my first attempt, they rejected my Spravka because it didn’t have my passport number, date and place of issue on it. This is because I provided proof of income as my statement. If you provide a 2NDFL form, you won’t need that. Individual Entrepreneurs can also provide their tax return.
Naturally enough the ВнЖ (residence permit) completely replaces the РВП (temporary residence permit) so your visa will be cancelled. For me that’s done in the FMS office Sokol office, but you’ll need to check that out for yourself.
If you leave the country, remember that you’ll need to take your residency document with you!
It could be somewhat problematic getting back in without it……
You need to get your new permanent residency registered at your local ‘мои документы’ (my documents) office (FMS department) within 10 working days. If you do not, you will be fined 5,000 roubles and have an administrative offence logged against you. Three of these admin offences are grounds for extradition.
So there you have it. 5 years with no visa hassles, work permit included and you have the option to renew, or if you are really keen, progress to citizenship. As I said in my previous article on temporary residency, there really is no need any more to engage expensive consultancies to do this process with you. Everything has been significantly simplified and made a little friendlier – apart from having to journey out to Km 60, of course. Every silver lining has a cloud somewhere.
If anyone has any questions, email me at
and I’ll try to help.
The procedure for issuing residence permits in the Russian Federation is defined by the Federal law dated July 25, 2002, no. 115-FZ ‘on legal status of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation’.
http://triamed.biz/ is the web site for 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 вида на жительство (Russian):
Roadmap / Process map defining the steps and documents necessary (Russian).