Skip to main content
Article

Immigration inspections

Author

Risk based approach to migration control

Immigration inspections are often conducted in companies employing foreign nationals in Russia. To avoid liability and fines, it is necessary to know exactly what can be checked by regulatory authorities. Migration control was included in the list of types of control exercised on a risk based approach basis in 2017, and the “inspection moratorium” on small and medium businesses was lifted in January 2019 so these businesses are now more likely to be inspected by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

I have reviewed below the particularities of immigration inspections and explained what a risk based approach entails and how it affects migration control.

Article structure:

Who can be inspected?

Employers (legal entities, individual entrepreneurs) can be inspected if they: 

  1. Hire foreign nationals or stateless persons;
  2. Act as host or inviting party. 

Foreign nationals/stateless persons either working or at an employer for other purposes may be checked during inspections. Foreign nationals/stateless persons are liable for their violations.

Types of inspection conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs

There are 2 types of immigration inspection conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs:

  1. Documentary check or desk inspection (scheduled and unscheduled);
  2. On-site check or field inspection (scheduled and unscheduled).

Desk inspection

A desk inspection is conducted based on all the necessary documents and information obtained by the Ministry of Internal Affairs from other inspection bodies, as well as its own data and information sources with no inspector visits to employers.

Desk inspections are completed within 20 working days with a maximum extension of 7 working days if necessary.

Field inspection 

Field inspections entails the visit of an inspector from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to the business place of employers.

  • Duration of scheduled field inspection – 20 working days; 
  • Duration of unscheduled field inspection – 7 working days.

The duration of these inspections may also be extended by a maximum of 7 working days if necessary.

Unscheduled inspections

Unscheduled inspections may be conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs at any time and cover all aspects of migration control. For example, the Ministry of Internal Affairs may initiate an unscheduled inspection following the receipt of a complaint.

Scheduled inspections

Scheduled inspections are conducted according to an inspection schedule approved by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This schedule is approved by the Ministry of Internal Affairs annually.

Information about scheduled inspections is available to the public on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia (Section Master Inspection Schedule for Business Entities for Relevant Year).

For example, inspection schedule for 2019 can be found at https://мвд.рф/document/15343746.

Practice: When an employer first registers with the Ministry of Internal Affairs in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region in order to issue visa invitations for foreign employees, the Ministry of Internal Affairs conducts field inspections to verify that the employer is actually located at the specified address. Such inspections have been conducted since 2018 because there had been previously many cases where visa invitations had been issued by employers that were not actually at the address they had indicated. Most of these inspections are related to the hiring of nationals from the CIS.

Grounds for inspections

Inspections are conducted on the basis of orders issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the relevant inspection. Orders for scheduled inspections are issued based on the annual inspection schedule.

Grounds for unscheduled inspection orders:

  1. Work schedule for the Ministry of Internal Affairs department system for the relevant period;
  2. Inspection schedule for the relevant period approved by the Ministry of Internal Affairs jointly with the relevant state bodies of the Russian Federation and its constituent entities;
  3. Order for employer rectification of identified violation of Russian migration law issued by a state control authority when no rectification has been made and the deadline set in the order for violation rectification has expired;
  4. Applications and statements received by the Ministry of Internal Affairs from individuals, individual entrepreneurs or legal entities, information from state authorities, trade unions, information from the media about violations by employers of migration law;
  5. Possible violation by an employer of mandatory requirements of migration law identified by the Ministry of Internal Affairs upon compliance monitoring within its competence;
  6. Unscheduled inspection order issued by the head (deputy head) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs as instructed by the President of the Russian Federation or the Government of the Russian Federation, or based on the public prosecutor’s request for an unscheduled inspection to monitor compliance with the law based on materials and applications  received by the prosecutor’s office of the Russian Federation.
  7. Information received by the Ministry of Internal Affairs evidencing possible violations of migration law by employers or foreign nationals.

Desk inspections may be conducted on any of the above grounds. 

Before starting any field inspection, inspectors must:

  • Show an official ID and original inspection order;
  • Hand over a copy of the inspection order to the employer being inspected.

What is done during an inspection

  1. Site review to establish the presence of foreign nationals or stateless persons at the employer’s address (in case of field inspection);
  2. Verification of compliance with Russian migration law, verification of validity of employment of foreign nationals /stateless persons and of the hiring of such people to work in the Russian Federation;
  3. Receipt and review of information and documents required for desk inspection as requested in writing;
  4. Recording of violation of Russian migration law.

A document is then drawn up on a set form upon inspection completion.

How is the employer risk category determined? And what does this risk category affect?

The risk category assigned to employers affects how often they will be subject to scheduled inspections from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

A category is assigned depending on the severity of potential negative consequences of possible non-compliance by employers with the requirements of the law and an assessment of the likelihood of non-compliance. 

There are 5 risk categories:

1.   Extremely high risk category is assigned in case of: 

  • an effective court sentence bringing to criminal liability an employer’s officer under Article 322.1 of the Russian Criminal Code (illegal immigration);
  • 35 or more effective decisions (orders) imposing an administrative penalty on an employer/employer’s officer under Article 18.9(1, 3 – 6) or Articles 18.15-18.17 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offenses; 

2.    High risk – from 25 to 34 such decisions;
3.    Significant risk – from 20 to 24 such decisions;
4.    Moderate risk – from 15 to 19 such decisions;
5.    Low risk – absence of such decisions.

The period reviewed for identification of violations for category assignment purposes is the 2 years preceding inspection.

The decision to assign low to high risk category is made by the head of the regional Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Assigning extremely high risk category is decided by the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs subject to the mandatory approval of the Migration Board of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.

To find out the category assigned, employers need to submit a formal request to the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Only those that are assigned the 3 highest risk categories are listed on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. 

Companies with no assigned category are by default considered low risk.

Companies are entitled to submit an application for change of risk category to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Frequency of scheduled inspections depending on risk category

Extremely high risk Once a year
High risk Once every 2 years
Significant risk Once every 3 years
Moderate risk Once every 5 years or less frequently
Low risk Once every 10 years or less frequently

The Ministry of Internal Affairs may include employers in the annual inspection schedule only if the appropriate period has elapsed since the last inspection.

So, for example, if a low risk category company had been subject to a scheduled inspection by the Ministry of Internal Affairs on February 04, 2019, then its next scheduled inspection would be possible no earlier than February 04, 2029.

What is checked during scheduled inspections?

Since March 2019, scheduled inspections have been conducted in accordance with a checklist due to the form.

Inspectors cannot ask questions other than those in the checklist.

Categories of checklist questions

Questions about foreign nationals for whom a visa is required

  1. Are the following documents available for all foreign nationals hired by the employer?
    • Authorization to recruit and hire foreign nationals;
    • Employment contracts (civil law contracts for performance of work (provision of services)) concluded in writing;
    • ID documents proving the identity of foreign nationals recognized and valid in the Russian Federation;
    • Valid residence permit, temporary residence permit or visa and/or immigration cards;
    • Valid work permit.
  2. Do the details (full name) in the work permit match those of the foreign national’s ID document?  
  3. Does the employer duly submit on proper form to the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs notices of conclusion (termination) of employment contracts or civil law contracts for performance of work (provision of services) with all foreign nationals?
  4. Do the foreign nationals hired by the employer perform their work within the area of the Russian Federation for which their work permit is issued?
  5. Do the foreign nationals temporarily residing in the Russian Federation hired by the employer work as per the profession (area of expertise, position, type of work) specified in their work permit?
  6. Does the employer duly submit on proper form to the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs notices of salary payment to highly qualified specialists?
  7. Do the foreign nationals studying in the Russian Federation work at the employer in the constituent entity of the Russian Federation in which they study?
  8. Does the employer duly submit on proper form to the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs notices of vacation without pay for more than one calendar month in a year to foreign nationals studying in the Russian Federation?
  9. Are employment contracts or civil law contracts for performance of work (provision of services) concluded with foreign nationals terminated in case of work permit cancelation if there are no grounds for term extension or if the foreign national has not taken the actions required for such extension in accordance with Federal Law N 115-FZ On the Legal Status of Foreign Nationals in the Russian Federation dated July 25, 2002?
  10. Does the employer comply with the following conditions? Hired foreign nationals cannot:
    • Be engaged for municipal service;
    • Replace a crew member on a ship sailing under the flag of the Russian Federation in compliance with the restrictions provided by the Merchant Shipping Code of the Russian Federation;
    • Be a crew member of a warship of the Russian Federation or another vessel operated for non-commercial purposes as well as an aircraft of state or experimental and cannot be a civil aircraft captain;
    • Work at facilities and in organizations whose activities are related to ensuring the security of the Russian Federation;
    • Be engaged in any other activity or fill other positions the access to which is restricted under Russian law;
    • Replace a chief accountant or other officer in charge of accounting (except for foreign nationals temporarily or permanently residing in the Russian Federation meeting the requirements of Russian law).

Questions about foreign nationals for whom no visa is required

  1. Are the following documents available for all foreign nationals hired by the employer?
    • Employment contracts (civil law contracts for performance of work (provision of services)) concluded in writing;
    • ID documents proving the identity of foreign nationals recognized and valid in the Russian Federation;
    • Valid residence permit, temporary residence permit or visa and/or immigration cards;
    • Valid work permit or patent.
  2. Do the details in the work permit or patent match those of the employee’s ID (full name, document details)?  
  3. Does the employer duly submit on proper form to the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs notices of conclusion (termination) of employment contracts or civil law contracts for performance of work (provision of services) with all foreign nationals?
  4. Do the foreign nationals hired by the employer work in the region for which their work permit or patent is issued and temporary residence is permitted?
  5. Do the foreign nationals work as per the profession (area of expertise, position, type of work) specified in their work permit or patent?
  6. Does the employer duly notify payment of salary to highly qualified specialists to the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs?
  7. Does the employer send copies of employment contract or civil law contract to the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs that has issued the patent within 2 months of the patent issuance date?
  8. Does the employer notify the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of vacation without pay for more than 1 month in a year granted to foreign nationals studying full time in the Russian Federation?
  9. Does the employer terminate the employment contracts or civil law contracts with foreign nationals when their work permit is canceled?
  10. Does the employer comply with the following conditions? Hired foreign nationals cannot:
    • Be engaged for municipal service;
    • Work as a crew member on a ship sailing under the flag of the Russian Federation; 
    • Be a crew member of a warship of the Russian Federation or another vessel operated for non-commercial purposes as well as an aircraft of state or experimental and cannot be a civil aircraft captain;
    • Work at facilities and in organizations whose activities are related to ensuring the security of the Russian Federation;
    • Engage in other activities that foreign nationals are prohibited to perform by law;
    • Replace a chief accountant or other officer in charge of accounting (except for foreign nationals temporarily or permanently residing in the Russian Federation meeting the requirements of Russian law). For example, foreign nationals with all the necessary qualifications required under Federal Law On Accounting, a temporary residence permit and registered at their place of temporary residence in the Russian Federation may work as an accountant.
  11. Do foreign nationals studying full time in the Russian Federation work in a profession for which they study?

Questions about foreign nationals from the Eurasian Economic Union (further the “EEU”)

  1. Have any employment contracts or civil law contracts been concluded with EEU nationals?
  2. Are foreign employees truly EEU nationals?
  3. Does the employer notify the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the conclusion of contracts with EEU nationals?  

Questions for educational organizations inviting foreign nationals to study in the Russian Federation

  1. Does the educational organization notify the Ministry of Internal Affairs within 3 working days of a foreign national’s unauthorized departure from the organization?
  2. Does the organization notify the Ministry of Internal Affairs of a full-time foreign student’s academic leave?
  3. Does the organization notify the Ministry of Internal Affairs when a foreign national completes a course? 

Questions for specialized organizations

Hotels, sanatoriums, health resorts, retreat centers, children’s holiday camps, tourist centers, camping sites, medical and social service organizations (in-patient facilities) are deemed to be specialized organizations.

Migration authorities check whether these organizations notify them of: 

  • Arrival of foreign nationals;
  • Departure of foreign nationals.

Recommendations to employers for passing inspections

To successfully pass risk based approach immigration inspections, we recommend:

  1. Determining what risk category is assigned to your company and the types of foreign nationals that are hired by your company;
  2. Answering the relevant questions from the checklists, checking the availability of documents required for the company and for foreign nationals;
  3. If violations are identified or some questions cannot be answered, we recommend rectifying these violations, drawing up the necessary documents and preparing the necessary information;
  4. Reviewing the inspection schedule issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the year. During the inspection, we recommend reviewing the materials and documents provided by the officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and making appropriate objections if necessary.

It is also worth noting that the abovementioned checklists are quite fluid and Russian migration legislation is sizable: handling the formalities for foreign employees (or their visit to the employer's office) and maintaining all required documents valid, including in terms of labor law require a lot of attention to details.

Our specialists are always pleased and look forward to:

  • Reviewing thoroughly the documents available for foreign employees as well as verifying that their residence and employment in the Russian Federation have been duly registered and are formalized as prescribed by Russian law; 
  • Advising on how best to resolve a particular situation related to the hiring of foreign nationals, including during inspections from the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
  • Advising on how to appeal against the actions of officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
  • Assisting with the preparation of all the documents required for foreign nationals to work legally in Russia.

If you have a question on labor and immigration law services, ask it through the form below. We will be happy to help.

Clicking on the 'Submit' button you agree to our Privacy Policy

Share