A foreign employee may not be hired without a work permit

IMPORTANT: A foreign employee shall have a work permit to work for your Russian subsidiary. Without a work permit he/she may also not be registered as a CEO in Russian trade register (even if the subsidiary is not active). The penalty could be up to EUR 13.000 with administrative suspension of the company’s activities and deportation of the foreign employee.


Foreign employees are generally allowed to work in Russia only under a work permit. However, some foreign employees do not need a permit (for example, employees holding a residence permission, employees making construction supervision or repairs of equipment imported to Russia, citizens of some former Soviet countries, etc.).


Work permits are of different kinds. The most popular and easy-to-go is a work permit for a so called “highly qualified specialist” (HQS). An HQS is a foreign employee with the salary of at least 167 000 rubles gross (approx. 2.000 euro) pro month.

An HQS-status provides the following benefits:

  • work permit for 3 years;
  • 3-years multi-entry visa (family members may get this visa too);
  • no need to pass an exam for Russian language, law and history;
  • less migration formalities;
  • less payments to social security funds;
  • 13% payroll tax rate (same as for Russian residents).

Basically, the procedure for applying for the HQS work permit consists of the following steps:

  • issuance of an invitation for the employee by the company;
  • personal receipt of a work permit in Russian migration authorities;
  • regular reporting.

Only Russian companies as well as representative offices and branches of foreign companies may engage HQS-employees (for example, a simple subdivision of a foreign company may not engage an HQS).


Migration authorities must be informed in writing of the following:

  • conclusion of an employment contract;
  • salary paid to the HQS (quarterly reports);
  • termination of the employment contract.