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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Official: Visa Rules Are Fine for Business

The Federal Migration Service brushed off Western concerns Friday that new visa regulations will further complicate business travel, saying new immigration laws sit easily with the needs of visiting businessmen and tourists.

Foreigners, officials and private travelers alike complain that the current system requiring them to carry passport, visa and valid registration at all times is extremely complex as it is. It is also open to abuse by corrupt police officers.

The new law on foreigners, which came into effect in November and is in the process of being implemented, requires foreigners in Russia to carry a special immigration card, issued at the border, for the duration of their stay.

"I do not think it is hard to come to Russia. I do not think it is harder than to go to any other country," Federal Migration Service head Andrei Chernenko told reporters.

The body, which is part of the Interior Ministry, will be issuing the cards.

The official reason for introducing the new system has been concern about swelling illegal immigration into the country, mostly from former Soviet republics.

Russia has grappled with the problem of enforcing its immigration laws and policing its land borders, which stretch from North Korea in the east to Norway in the northwest.

Some businesses say changes to the complex systems that regulate the comings and goings of Westerners to Russia and Russians to the West could harm their activities in Russia.

"If either side ... introduces tougher entry policies or restrictions on information exchange, this will definitely make it harder for us to work on and finish big projects," said Sergei Kravchenko, president of U.S. aviation giant Boeing in Russia and the CIS.

Chernenko said that the new law would not address the problem posed by immigrants who are already in the country illegally, as they would not cross a border and receive the new card.

He said Russia was already home to 1.5 million people from former Soviet states who had entered the country and were working illegally.

"They have absolutely no legal status," Chernenko said. "It's a question that has to be resolved. Everyone has to have a legal status, but how we are going to deal with this issue, only time will tell."