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Russia: Re-Entry Restrictions for Illegal Migrants

(Feb. 27, 2015) On January 12, 2015, amendments to the Federal Law on Exit from and Entry into the Russian Federation entered into force. (Federal Law of the Russian Federation No. 524-FZ of December 31, 2014, on Amending Article 27 of the Federal Law on Exit from and Entry into the Russian Federation, Official Internet Portal of Legal Information (in Russian).). As stated in the Explanatory Note on the amending legislation, the purpose is to improve the monitoring of migrants present in Russia and thus decrease their ability to conduct criminal acts. (Explanatory Note on Bill No. 487829-6, Legislative Database of the Russian Federation State Duma (Dec. 31, 2014) (in Russian).) It was reported that several high profile crimes had been committed by foreigners who were in Russia illegally. (See, e.g., Interview with the Federal Migration Service Head, Konstantin Romadanovsky (Oct. 21, 2013), Federal Migration Service website (in Russian).)

The amending Law limits the duration of stay in Russia for foreigners and restricts their admission to Russia in the future if they violate Russian migration legislation. Foreign nationals from the countries that have visa-free travel agreements with Russia are now allowed to stay in Russia for no longer than three months during every six-month period. (Illegals Will Be Banned from Entering Russia for Ten Years, LENTA.RU (Dec. 31, 2014) (in Russian).) Previously they were allowed to stay for three consecutive months, and this provision of the law was used by immigrants to stay in Russia indefinitely. Most of the time, they crossed the border and obtained exit and entry stamps that allowed them to stay in the country for additional three-month periods. (Id.)

If an immigrant overstays the three-month limit, he or she will be fined and banned from entering Russia for the next three years. Those who stay in the country more than six months illegally will be subject to a five-year entry ban. The same five-year travel ban will apply to those immigrants who have committed at least two administrative violations during a year. Those who illegally overstay their permitted presence in Russia for more than nine months or who were extradited twice will lose their right to enter Russia for ten years. (Id.)

It is estimated that more than 4.3 million illegal migrants are present in Russia today, most of whom are citizens of other former Soviet republics and are concentrated in the Russian capital city of Moscow. Reportedly, in 2013 (the last year for which data is available) 217,000 migrants were fined for immigration law violations. (Federal Migration Service Counted Illegal Migrants, LENTA.RU (Sept. 22, 2014) (in Russian).)