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Significant Changes In Russian Immigration Law

Posted by: Gherson Immigration

The UK is not the only country undergoing significant immigration reform. A law significantly simplifying the process of obtaining citizenship has recently been passed in Russia and will come into force in the next few months.

The changes are mainly directed at foreign citizens and stateless individuals who permanently reside in the country. Most notably, the infamous requirement to renounce foreign citizenship before becoming a Russian national has been abolished. From now on, applicants only need to notify the decision-making authorities that they hold foreign citizenship. Historically, Russian law has not recognised dual citizenship as a concept. Any dual national is treated in exactly the same way as those who only have Russian citizenship (with the only exception being citizens of Tajikistan). 

Some other important changes have been made to the procedure for acquiring Russian citizenship, which is available to certain categories of persons (for example, those having a parent who is a Russian citizen and lives in Russia). The main advantage is that there is no longer a need to reside in Russia for five years before applying. The new law has simplified the application procedure even further – applicants who are entitled to avail of this scheme are not now required to provide evidence of a legal source of income. Additionally, the scope of people who can use this procedure has been significantly widened: for example, any citizen of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Ukraine can now take advantage of this scheme regardless of meeting any other specific conditions, merely on the basis of being a national of one of these four states and residing in Russia. 

The reasons behind these reforms are quite obvious. The current Russian demographic crisis has become more acute in the last few years, with deaths outnumbering births by over 250,000 in 2019. The country hopes to increase its population by making it significantly easier to obtain citizenship. The prognosis is positive and the new policy is expected to attract between five and ten million new Russian citizens.

However, while the number of Russian citizens is expected to increase, so too is the outbound movement of Russians leaving the country in search of better living conditions abroad. As the recent statistical data from the Levada Center (an independent Russian research organization) has shown, 53% of young Russians aged between 18 and 24 are considering moving overseas.

Over the years, Gherson have helped many Russian nationals obtain various types of UK visas, permanent residency and, ultimately, UK citizenship. If you would like to obtain any specific advice relating to your current circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2020


Elena Vaina 

  Elena Vaina

  Paralegal in our Complex Case team


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