Russia to announce amnesty for millions of illegal guest-workers

Russia will have the most liberal law on immigration in the event the amendments are approved

The Federal Migration Service of Russia intends to announce the first-ever immigration amnesty next year. In other words, the absence of documents, which illegal workers in Russia are supposed to obtain for their stay in the country, will be forgiven. Furthermore, the service plans to legalize all people, who come to work in Russia from neighbouring states, in order to make them exemplary guest workers. The mechanism of the immigration amnesty is already being tested in Moscow and the Moscow region. Guest-workers

According to the chairman of the labour migration department of the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation, Vyacheslav Postavnin, the service has already legalized about 2,000 guest workers in Moscow during the recent couple of months. The point of the “Migration and Amnesty” program is as follows: if immigrants do not come to the Federal Migration Service, the service comes to immigrants. The Moscow experiment in the field has already proved to be a successful initiative; it is planned to conduct a similar action in other regions of Russia as well.

The terms of amnesty for illegal guest workers in Russia have not been determined yet on account of the absence of the adequate legal norm. Documents will thus be issued to the people, who arrive from the countries, with which Russia has non-visa entry agreements. Once migration amnesty is announced, such workers will be able to receive necessary documents: the immigration card and the working papers. All official procedures in this case will last for not more than ten days, whereas guest workers have to wait for the documents for months at present.

The Federal Migration Services is currently working on its suggestions to the Russian law on immigration: the would-be amendments are to make the simplified official procedures a legal norm for immigrants in Russia. According to Mr. Postavnin, Russia will have the most liberal law on immigration in the event the amendments are approved.

The chairman of the Federal Migration Service said that there were up to 15 million illegal workers living in present-day Russia. About 80 percent of them come from the countries of the former USSR. A lot of those people have been living in Russia for years; many of them have integrated into the Russian society completely, although they still do not have official documents for labour activities. “If we do not legalize them, we will deprive them of civil rights and push them towards the criminal environment,” Vyacheslav Postavnin said.

According to preliminary estimates made by specialists of the Federal Migration Service, up to one million guest workers will be legalized in eight regions of Russia within the scope of the migration amnesty program. However, one should bear in mind the fact that new illegal workers will continue to arrive in Russia, which brings up the idea that the migration amnesty valid for one occasion only will not improve Russia's immigration policies. “Amnesty is not panacea. It is at least a method to ease the intense situation in the society,” the chairman of the Federal Migration Service said.

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Author`s name Olga Savka