Ask the Boss

Q: How do you see the new business visa rules affecting the expat job market?

Teri Lindeberg, CEO, Staffwell:

Expats not on official work visas will find life here more difficult. However, for expats who can get on a work visa, their lives will become much simpler, and they will spend less money and time getting the visa than in the past.

"We would advise companies to get their expats on official work visas. Expats here that are not working for official companies will have a hard time until they are or until loopholes are created in the system. If expats are unclear on work visas, they should ask their company's finance managers, CFOs or chief accountants to look into it for them. The answers are easily attained for these professionals and others.

"It seems it is a system that has just been improved to be less cumbersome. The faster people get on it, the easier their lives will become. However, companies will need to plan for some man-hours from their finance or administrative staff to process the paperwork and a small fee for each expat employee. Alternatively, companies can outsource this function to an agency for a larger fee."

Luc Jones, Partner, Antal International Russia/CIS:

Things will become a lot more evident within the next six to nine months, as those non-CIS foreigners on one-year multiple-entry visas decide what to do once their existing visas run out. The people that it is likely to affect the most are those working for smaller organizations -- either Russian or international -- or freelancers, English-language teachers, etc.

"The Russian authorities have simply closed a loophole. Many people didn't used to bother getting a work permit and the relevant visa due to the cumbersome and lengthy process. Companies who haven't to date been fully complying with the rules now have no choice other than to either have their expatriates spend less time in Russia, or to employ more Russian nationals.

"The main difference is likely to be that companies will be less likely to take a punt on a non-CIS national than before -- whether it be someone from within their own organization relocating to Moscow, or hiring a foreigner locally. They need to be much more certain that everything will work out.

"The rules are clear, but exactly to what extent they will be implemented is currently less clear and may take a while to filter down to the relevant people, who may not enforce the rules. Whether border guards will actually calculate the number of days someone has been in the country and deny entry is another matter."