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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fast-Track Visas Return for Some

A fast-track method for issuing visa and work permits for high-ranking foreign executives working in Moscow has been temporarily restored for those who need to extend their stays, a lawyer representing foreign firms said Friday.

However, it was unclear Friday whether the partial restoration of the old system would last, and a solution has yet to be found for first-time arrivals to Russia, said Sergei Melnikov, a lawyer with the Your Lawyer legal firm.

Fast-track permits were scrapped Dec. 9 in connection with the new law on foreigners that came into force in November. But the new rules, which were to level the playing field between top foreign executives and everyone else wishing to work in Russia, have not yet been published in the official Rossiskaya Gazeta.

The rules come into force only after publication.

The resulting legal limbo effectively has put on hold all work permit applications for foreigners.

The Interior Ministry late last week extended by one year the fast-track method for executives based in Moscow, Melnikov said.

"It appears that this was just an order passed over the telephone. There is no written document outlining for how long the old system will last," he said.

"That opens the possibility for the authorities to cancel this option at any given moment," he added.

Melnikov stressed that for the time being there is simply no way for new foreign specialists to be hired to work in Russia without a months-long wait for documents.

"This is particularly serious problem because it worries foreign investors who want to work in Russia," he said.

Representatives of the foreign business community have been lobbying the government and the State Duma to amend the law on foreigners to make an exception for highly qualified foreigners.

Interior Ministry officials were unavailable for comment about the temporary changes Friday.