Photo by Anna Bunski
My own Internet survey about marrying a Russian has revealed that Internet contains dozens of Russian articles about registration of marriage between a Russian and a foreigner itself, and dozens of English articles about a Russian fiancé moving abroad (overly subjectively emotive and totally biased). But it turns out that there is an absolute lack of information for foreigners that moved to Russia and decided to marry a Russian, in English (so as in Russian). The statistics shows that there are around 11 millions of foreigners in Russia annually, most of which come to Russia for work; only 80% of them come from neighboring countries (one third from which come from Asian countries), and mainly this is 18-40 years old men who want to feed your family at home. And yes, nowadays tendency shows, and I am personally a witness to it, that numerous foreigners eventually decide to leave they own country (whether it is in Africa, or in Asia, or in Latin America, or in Europe, or it is the USA, or Canada, or elsewhere), move to Russia and to connect their lives with a Russian citizen.
This post is not calling to move to Russia nor claiming to be a hymn to Russian woman at all (but if you allow me, I can dedicate to it a whole ode, which I believe my foreign friends will certainly support). It is also no secret that marrying a citizen is a good way to ‘stick to a country’. So this article is for you, my dear foreign readers, whether being in love or materialistic-minded, who have already decided to connect their lives with Russia and wondering about some practical sides of that. This post is supposed to give answers to some frequently asked questions of yours and is dedicated to both men and women, who are considering changes and possibilities that they might be given if they marry a Russian citizen.
For a foreigner that wants to stay in Russia, becoming ‘more Russian’ (gaining Russian temporary living permit or permanent residency, and especially a Russian passport) really removes difficulties and relieves headache. I checked on my personal experience. Here you start enjoying entering doors being opened for you: starting with more trust and less documents to provide for certain matters, continuing with cheaper fees for many services, lack of additional bureaucratic procedures, ability to take credits, to work with no restrictions, and many other pleasant things, main of which are the following:
- Usually foreigners who come to Russia are allowed to stay in Russia for 90 days (for those who come without a visa), whereas being married to a Russian citizen gives possibility to obtain temporary residence permit to stay for 3 years.
Besides, temporary residence permit may be issued to a foreigner being married to a Russian citizen excluding quota (which means regardless of limits for cities issued by the government, faster and MUCH MUCH EASIER).
In its turn, temporary residence permit allows a foreigner:
- to officially become an individual entrepreneur and start doing business in Russia (a businessman that stays for only 90 days cannot be considered as reliable);
- to be employed without obtaining a work permit or labor patent;
- receive medical care at the place of registration;
- to visit migration offices rarer, to face less bureaucracy and to breathe easier and feel better etc.
- Being married to a Russian citizen for at least three years allows a foreigner to apply for a Russian citizenship in a simplified procedure (which saves you 5 (five) years in a comparison with a common procedure of getting a citizenship. Five years is a whole life, so saving it worth it, isn’t it!).
Obtaining a Russian citizenship means obtaining a whole amount of rights that Russian citizens have, and give up restrictions that foreigners have. Main restrictions regarding labor law were overviewed in the article ‘Restrictions in labor rights of foreigners in Russia’.
So as you can see, marrying a Russian citizen gives a foreigner certain advantages related to a change of migration status.
Now let me point some certain reasons why moving towards obtaining Russian citizenship is good.
NO FAKE OBSTACLES
Obtaining Russian citizen will let you forget about misunderstanding that a foreigner might face when he/she wants to perform certain actions (e.g. to apply for a job, to open a bank account, to conclude some agreement etc.). Unfortunately, due to lack of knowledge of some workers of some random organizations, if you are a foreigner, they might require you to provide more documents (while they are really unnecessary) or even deny to provide you with services. I faced it in my time. They do it ‘just in case’, because they might not quite know how to deal with a foreigner, being afraid to break some [non-existent] migration law requirements. Surely, this is not an excuse to them. Just be patient and persistent.
REDUCING A TAX RATE
Let me remind you, tax rate for personal income tax depends on a tax residency – a period during which foreigner is staying in the territory of the Russian Federation. To be considered as a tax resident, you must actually be in Russia for at least 183 calendar days within 12 consecutive months. Non-residents are taxed by a common personal income tax rate in the amount of 30%, while residents pay only 13%. Without having a temporary residence, you will still be considered as non-resident. So as you can see, obtaining a temporary residence and staying for a long term in Russia (to be considered as a resident) gives a financial profit.
This is not a secret that foreigners are charged more in many ways, in many places they want to go, in many things they want to do. For example, universities, museums, consulates, banks etc. might officially charge foreigners with higher prices. Unofficially (when there are no fixed price lists), sellers, drivers or others might dishonestly name you a higher price once they understand that you are not a local. But I guess this is not a problem of a certain country.
Yes, foreigners are allowed to own land or other real estate in Russia. Restrictions for foreigners regarding owning a real estate are not so significant and mostly settled for reasons of national security (see here ):
- Foreigners and foreign legal entities are not allowed to own lands located in the border areas (the list of such territories was issued by Decree of the President N26 on January 9, 2011).
- Foreigners and foreign companies are not allowed to own lands within sea ports.
- ‘Agricultural lands’(special kind of lands) are not allowed to be owned by foreigners, foreign legal entities and legal entities with participating in amount of more than 50% foreigners and foreign legal entities. – They are only allowed to rent ‘agricultural lands’.
- Foreigners and foreign legal entities are not allowed to get lands that are in state or municipal ownership for free, in their property.
But still, becoming a citizen removes these restrictions.
OWNING A COMPANY
Yes, foreigners are allowed to own a company and run a corporate business in Russia (by corporate business I mean owning a company that differs from person, as opposed to an individual entrepreneur). A foreign participant of a company, for example of a Limited Liability Company or a Joint-stock company, pays taxes in the same way as a businessman with a Russian passport. The only thing he needs to know: a non-resident participant of a company with foreign investments pays 15% of personal income tax for dividends (versus 13% for Russian citizens).
Also, foreigners can run business in Russia by opening branches and representative offices of foreign companies. But the nuance is that branches and representative offices are considered as foreign organizations applied to tax code, and are not allowed to apply the simplified tax system (with less taxes to pay than in a common tax system).
In general, a foreign businessman in Russia must provide the registering body with more documents than the Russian businessman. Mainly it is related to requirement of translation into Russian. Believe me or not, but these translation expenses (quite heavy if to count) will follow you until you get a Russian citizenship.
COMMON CHILD’S CITIZENSHIP
If a foreigner’s and a Russian citizen’s child is born in the territory of the Russian Federation, the child gets Russian Federation citizenship by birth. If it is provided by the foreigner’s country laws, the child might also obtain his/her second citizenship.
Becoming a Russian citizen allows you to enjoy travelling rights for Russian citizens: to visit countries where Russians do not need visas to go (today it’s over 100 countries), to stay there for as long as it is allowed for Russians, or to pay fewer fees for obtaining visas (consulates charge foreigners more).
Russian employers tend to prefer foreigners that have something that connects a foreigner with Russia for a long term, whether it is having a spouse or a real estate or something else. They consider a foreigner that has a Russian wife or husband as more reliable and less likely to suddenly get tired of Russia and terminate the contract untimely in the middle of a term. I guess there is no need to argue that even in everyday life, being in relationship allows to acquire the necessary people and places, makes a foreigner an ‘insider’, more serious and reputable in the eyes of others, helps adapt to and understand a new way of life.
Now regarding investing in general, Russian economy does welcomes foreign investments and provides different ways for that. Read some of the recently issued information here.
When I came to Russia as a foreigner, I was offered a professional service to marry a Russian for a certain fee in order to get a Russian citizenship. But to me, back then the moral side prevailed, and I refused as I was determined to ‘keep my marriage history clean for true love’ and to get a citizenship all by myself. And that’s how it happened to me 🙂
So if a moral side does not bother you, marrying someone is still a good way for getting citizenship privileges. But make sure that the person you are going to choose as a spouse is really reliable and will not disappear when you need a divorce or to sign some documents, otherwise you might face a problem of a ‘runaway Bride’. Also be warned that if the marriage is considered invalid, then all the official statuses that you might have got, will be canceled.
Be warned that Russian legislation admits possibility to judicially recognize a marriage invalid, if the spouses or one of them were married with no intention to start a family.
If a residence permit (or a Temporary residence permit) was given on the basis of being married to a Russian citizen, but that marriage was invalidated by the court, the residence permit (or a Temporary residence permit) might be cancelled. So as to a citizenship: if it is found in court that the decision of giving a citizenship of the Russian Federation was based on fake information, the citizenship shall be cancelled.
Marriage registration procedure is quite ceremonial and bright, it shall not scary you as it is not complicated, but has some special rules. Divorce is not desirable, for many reasons, unless it is by a mutual desire…
Photo by Anna Bunski
Leaving the materialistic side behind, for a foreigner that came to Russia for living, marrying a Russian citizen is going to become a strong push for adapting quicker and moving forward, enjoying support, being not alone anymore and feeling a part of our big hospitable family called Russia 🙂 .
Love each other and be happy. Best regards.
by Anna S. Menshova
Russian Marketing Director & Legal Consultant for Elite Social Network
Lawyer and Legal adviser
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Tel. +7 967 590-73-79