Russia to issue 1.8 million work permits in 2008

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According to the Russian government's press service, Russia will issue 1.8 million work permits to foreign nationals in 2008.

The Federal Migration Service said that between January and August of 2007, the number of work permits issued reached 1.7 million. This is double the number issued over the same period in 2006.

Over 20 million people come to Russia every year to work -- many of them illegal. Only five million foreign workers applied for work permits in 2007.

Most migrant workers arrive from other former Soviet nations, such as Uzbekistan. Recent agreements between Russia and other former Soviet republics have been discussed in an attempt to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

In addition to the announcement about work permit quotas, Russia recently announced changes to its multiple-entry visa rules.

New legislation signed by Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov in October 2007 will only allow multiple-entry business visas to be valid for 180 days out of one year and for no longer than 90 days at a time.

Previously, many migrants living and working in Russia under multiple-entry business visas just crossed the border to reset their visa. Under the new rules, this is not possible. Many foreigners are finding themselves hurrying to get work or residence permits.