Residency in Russia – ‘Bид на Жительство’ (Residence Permit)

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Following on from last month’s Temporary Residency story, I’ve now completed the full Residency (Вид на жительство) application process. Compared to previous experiences, this was a much improved and streamlined procedure.

First news is that the Federal Migration Service operation is now centralised in a modernised office on Novoslobodskaya, specifically ул. Новослободская, д. 45, корпус Б Ul. Novoslobodskaya D. 45, Korpus B (Ul. Novoslovobodskaya, D. 45, Korpus B).

There are two levels of service. The first is a ticketing system which allows 45 or 90 people through per day, depending on what they want. Obviously, with the thousands of people seeking residency here, this is not a practical solution. However the good news, for those with some cash to spare, is that there is a commercial alternative. You pay 34,000 roubles and get instant attention, support through all the process, with prioritised processing. This is done by a company called OOO Galleon, but to all intents and purposes at this stage, they’re working as the front end for the Federal Migration Service.

I’ll describe my experiences here as an applicant who qualifies by virtue of being married to a Russian citizen – I’m no expert in these matters, and I’m not talking about the quota system, stateless people applications and so on.

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 and 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 means that a foreigner never has 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. Permanent residency is granted for a period of five years. This can be renewed indefinitely or converted to citizenship.

At this point, I should mention the Russian language test. I think it’s not a good description, as the test covers language, history, legal and socio-economic topics. Minimum pass level is 80%. Personally I found it a challenge. 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 agent specifically checked for that.

The first step is to go to the commercial process windows, on the third floor at Novoslobodskaya. There are no signs, but you can see windows with no number displays – that’s where to go. The agent will ask you to sign 3 forms which she will print for you:

A Dogovor which is your agreement to pay for the process
A Dogovor for the medical
A data protection form

There is an initial payment to be made of 3,500 roubles for the government fee. This must be done through Sberbank, in addition to the 34,000 rouble commercial fee I mentioned above.

You next need to agree the date and time for your medical tests, which the agent will arrange for you. This is also a much improved process. Instead of going to 3 different clinics in different parts of Moscow (as I did with my temporary residency), you go to one clinic in Semyonovskaya, take all the tests (Fluroscan, Blood test, Skin test, drug/alcohol) and it takes about 40 minutes. The clinic will give you copies of papers but the results are sent directly to Novoslobodskaya after 5 working days.

You then need to go back to Novoslobodskaya, and there are some documents that you’ll need to submit. 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.

The documents that you do need are:

4 photographs, with the usual bio-metric specifications that all the embassies ask for. You can also have the photos done at Novoslobodskaya – it’s included in the price.
Your medical Spravka, if you did that process separately, if not FMS will have received thecorrect paperwork directly from the clinic if you opted for that service.
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 six months validity, forget it and get a new passport first.
2 copies of your RVP Разрешение на временное проживание page in your passport.
Your Russian language certificate.
YFMS, when they granted the temporary residency, will have asked for your proof of address and proof of income after one year. They will have given you a Spravka, which is your declaration of income and proof of address. You will need to provide this document now.
Proof of income or a Spravka (bank statement) 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.
Marriage certificate.
Apartment ownership document or your rental agreement.

I believe that there is an option to complete an application form yourself, but if you’ve gone the commercial route then the agent will be doing that for you.

So, you reappear at the commercial windows, and hand over your paperwork. The big advantage now is that the agent takes copies and progresses your application through the system. They’re responsible for the application accuracy and monitoring process. You will need to wait while the agent completes the application form on her computer. When this is done, she will give you your form and documentation back, then she will make an appointment with an Inspector for you. In my case this was 5 days after assembling the documentation.

She will also ask you to sign 2 copies of a Dogovor, your contract with them for the process, and a data protection document. She will also give you an A4 piece of paper with a bar code on it, for the next stage. This bar code is your entry key back into the rather greyer world of the FMS.
The appointment with the Inspector takes place on the 4th floor. My advice is to go early. You need to show your A4 bar code to the receptionist. There are a fixed number of ‘non-commercial’ appointments per day – 30 or 60, depending on the individual, I was told. However, armed with your barcode, the receptionist will then take you to another electronic ticket machine, print you the appointment ticket and she will sign it. My appointment happened right on time.

On the 4th floor, you’ll find a display with the ticket numbers displayed. There’s a waiting area in front of 4 doors. There are a lot of people there, but not everyone is ‘commercial’ and you will have your appointment anyway. When your number comes up, go to the door indicated, where your inspector will command you to sit and demand your file.

If, like mine, your file was complete, documents in order, and your Inspector is happy – that’s it. You will be given a document receipt, and told to come back in six months’ time.
Naturally enough the ВнЖ (residence permit) completely replaces the РВП (temporary residence permit) so your visa will need changing too. For me that’s done in the FMS office Sokol office, but you’ll need to check that out for yourself. It’s not happened for me yet, but if the visa for РВП is anything to go by, it took 2 days and it was free.

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 lot more customer friendly. Sure it’s more expensive than it was, but the extra 34K is well within most expat’s reach. If anyone has any questions, email me at David.john.maltby@gmail.com and I’ll try to help.

The FMS web site is at http://www.77.fms.gov.ru/services/residence .