Russia exempts managers from work permit quotas in Moscow

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Work permit quotas in Moscow will not apply to managers and certain categories of specialists, according to Russia's Federal Migration Service (FMS).

In a meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce, FMS official Oleg Artamonov said that his department was issuing work permits for some Moscow-based foreigners even though Moscow had reached its annual work permit quota at the end of May.

A spokesperson for the Health and Social Development Ministry confirmed that a directive was handed down allowing the migration service to issue work permits for foreign specialists. While not yet formally enacted by the Justice Ministry, the directive has been put into action by the FMS since 24 July 2008. However, it remains unclear exactly which categories of foreign workers would be exempt from the annual quota.

"Qualified people form no more than 1 to 3 percent of all foreign employees, and it was within our power to put them outside the quota," said Konstantin Poltaranin, FMS spokeperson.

The new work permit exemptions were not widely publicized after being implemented. According to Andrew Somers, president of the American Chamber of Commerce, the new exceptions were not known until 05 August 2008.

"There's a lot of confusion right now," Somers said. "We became aware of [the directive] last month, but we needed this confirmation today."

"They ran out of quotas for the year, and none of us were aware there was this exception for top managers," he added.