Russia is a very rich and prosperous country concerning its economical standing in the world, alongside its power and great influence. However, the Russian government is very strict about permitting foreign nationals to work, or even visit, their country. It is said that they have an annual quota for the allowed number of working internationals inside their country. This is the reason why the process of applying for work visas in Russia is very competitive, lengthy, and harder than most of the countries that allow foreign nationals workers.

Applying for a job or work in Russia is a very complicated process, and more if you plan on establishing or creating a business in it. It would be nearly impossible to even get a permit for building your business. However, if you want to pursue this kind of dream, a high level of commitment, patience, and time will be needed because it will surely be an arduous procedure.

On the other hand, working in Russia for a client or an employer requires involvement from you and that employer. Certain additional requirements will be needed from both of you, indicating that your main purpose is to work for your employer inside Russia’s territory. Another thing to consider before applying for a permit is the economic status of the country because the number of allowed foreign workers in Russia depends on it.

Steps to Apply for a Russian Work Visa

Step 1. Make Sure That You Already Have a Job Waiting in Russia

One of the requirements to qualify for a work visa in Russia is to find a job before applying. An employment permit will be needed from you as proof that your purpose is to work. These employment permits are only given and issued to employers in Russia. It is the government’s way of keeping track of the number of foreign nationals who are currently working in the country. Therefore, found an employer with an employment permit to process your application.

Step 2. Let Your Employer Apply for Your Work Permit to the GUVM

After securing your job and employment permit from your employer, he will then proceed to the Russian Directorate of Migratory Affairs (GUVM) to submit your filled-out application. You can find the forms of applications and requirements needed to apply for a Russian work visa and permit. Depending on your country, there might be additional documents so carefully check the full required papers for each country.

Step 3. Make Sure That All Requirements are Submitted by Your Employer

You could check with the embassy about the status of your application and counter-check if your employer has already submitted all the necessary documents and permits. Only then can you proceed to the next step.

Step 4. Pay for the Processing and Other Fees Needed

It depends on your agreement with your employer on who will pay for your Russian work visa. Some companies are generous to pay for all your processing fees while others do not include it in your contract. If you are in the latter case, Russian work visa and permit prices are different and they vary depending on the country you are from. On average, the price starts at 170 UK pounds.

Step 5. Get the Official Receipt

After submitting the necessary documents and paying for the process fees, get the official receipt as proof of transaction if you were the one who paid for the processing of your visa and permit. You will need this once your papers are finished and ready to be released by the Russian Directorate of Migratory Affairs.

Step 6. Wait for the Processing Days

Once you obtain the official receipt, it will take at least 20 working days for your work visa in Russia to be processed. Being as strict as ever, the Russian government carefully and thoroughly checks all your submitted requirements and employment permits. Sometimes, this process can take from 3 to 6 months and you can’t do anything about it.

Step 7. Receive Your Invitation from the GUVM

Once approved, you will receive an invitation from the GUVM stating that your work visa and work permit will be available for release. The invitation has the indicated date and time scheduled for the issuance of your documents, so, please be in time. Remember that you will not be able to travel around Russia until you received your visa, so, make sure to receive all your permits.

Step 8. Get Your Issued Visa and Work Permit

You can get these documents from the Russian embassy in your country or once you landed in Russia. The validity of your Russian work visa is 90 days but it can be extended up to a year by renewing it after 90 days.

Documents Needed for a Russian Work Visa

Documents and requirements for application in Russia are thoroughly checked because of the strict government policies. There are several things to prepare for your application and these are your colored passport photograph, passport or any valid ID, a copy of the necessary qualification certificates from both employee and employer, a copy of your visa application form, a letter from the employer about your job details, location of work, and contract, and lastly, a medical certificate that indicates you’re healthy enough to work abroad. Sometimes, these documents are still not enough and they will ask for more information about you and your work.

More Information About Russian Work Visa

Among all the countries that accept foreign nationals as a part of their working force, Russia is the strictest when it comes to legality which includes necessary documents and papers. You need to prepare a Russian work visa and a work permit. Every application will be reviewed thoroughly and repetitively before approving one’s permit to work in this country.

However, since non-Russian citizens have a hard time getting their visas and permits, some applied for Russian citizenship after five years of residence. Indeed, permits and visas will not be needed once you are a citizen but for that to happen, you will need to pass an exam in the Russian language. This will require a great deal of commitment and willingness to happen but nothing is impossible for people who dream big.

Still, there are types of workers that are exempted from getting a work visa in Russia. These are foreign workers who already have a permanent residence permit, diplomats of other countries, journalists accredited in Russia, students with an existing student visa, and teachers or professors.


We hope that this article on getting a work visa in Russia was helpful. If you are interested in studying in Europe, make sure to check out Available Programs in Europe for International Students.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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