TASS FACTBOX. On April 24, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on granting individuals permanently residing in certain districts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions the right to apply for Russian citizenship using a simplified procedure.
Legislative regulation of Russian citizenship issues
Citizenship of the Russian Federation is obtained by birth, as a result of granting citizenship and in the event of changing Russia’s state borders in accordance with an international agreement.
The legislation provides for a general and simplified procedure for obtaining Russian citizenship.
Foreigners’ status in Russia
Foreign citizens applying for Russian citizenship in Russia must have a legal status (for example, they must have a temporary residence permit or a residence permit). Individuals staying in Russia illegally cannot apply for citizenship.
The Russian Interior Ministry’s territorial bodies issue temporary residence permits to foreigner nationals for three years. The number of permits is limited by the annual quotas approved by the Russian government.
Temporary residence permits can be obtained without taking into account these quotas by:
- former USSR citizens who were born on the territory of the RSFSR;
- persons who were born on the territory of the Russian Federation;
- persons married to Russian citizens living in Russia;
- individuals enlisted in the army;
- participants in the State program of assistance to voluntary resettlement of compatriots living abroad to the Russian Federation;
- persons with children having Russian citizenship;
- persons investing in Russia in the amount established by the Russian government;
- some other categories of foreign nationals who have relatives in direct descent who are Russian citizens.
Along with applying for a temporary residence permit, foreigners’ mandatory fingerprinting is carried out.
During the period of validity of a temporary residence permit, a residence permit can be issued to a foreign citizen upon his/her application for a period of five years (can be extended on multiple occasions). The corresponding application is filed to local Interior Ministry bodies. Before obtaining a residence permit, a foreign national must live in Russia for at least one year on the basis of a temporary residence permit. An exception is made for highly-qualified specialists, individuals recognized as native Russian speakers and members of their families. Besides, temporary residence permits can be issued to foreign citizens (and members of their families) who arrived in Russia on an emergency basis recognized as refugees or who were granted temporary asylum in Russia and became participants in the State program of assistance to voluntary resettlement of compatriots to the Russian Federation.
General procedure for obtaining citizenship
The decision on granting citizenship is made by the head of state and is formalized by a presidential decree. The duration of considering the documents is one year. In accordance with the general procedure, Russian citizenship can be obtained by any legally capable adult foreign citizen (or a stateless person), if he/she has lived in Russia for at least five years since obtaining a residence permit (during this period it is allowed to leave Russia for no more than three months within one year). An applicant must comply with the Constitution and legislation of the Russian Federation. Besides, he/she must provide documentary evidence of the existence of a legitimate source of the means of subsistence, knowledge of the Russian language and also renounce citizenship of another state.
The term of permanent residence in the Russian Federation required for obtaining citizenship in accordance with the general procedure can be reduced to one year for three reasons:
- an applicant has high achievements in science, technology and culture or has a profession that is of interest to the Russian Federation;
- an applicant is granted political asylum in Russia;
- availability of refugee status.
Individuals who have special merits to the Russian Federation can be granted citizenship by the head of state without observing the conditions mentioned above. Russian Armed Forces contract enlistees who have citizenship of the former Soviet republics can obtain Russian citizenship after being in the army for three years. At the same time, they do not need to submit residence permits.
Simplified citizenship procedure
According to a simplified procedure, citizenship is granted without requiring a residence permit and uninterrupted residence in the Russian Federation for five years. The term of considering the documents in this case does not exceed six months. For citizens of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, it has been reduced to three months in accordance with the four-party agreement signed on February 26, 1999, which took effect on November 4, 2000.
Currently, Russian citizenship can be obtained in accordance with a simplified procedure by:
- persons with at least one parent who is a citizen of the Russian Federation living in Russia;
- persons living in Russia who have been married to Russian citizens for more than three years;
- former Russian citizens who were born in the RSFSR;
- former Russian citizens who lived or live in the former Soviet republics and obtained no citizenship in the independent states created in these republics;
- former Soviet citizens living in Russia who are Great Patriotic War veterans;
- persons who received vocational education in the Russian Federation under government programs after July 1, 2002, who have worked in Russia legally for at least three years (with employers deducting insurance contributions to the Pension Fund from their earnings);
- self-employed entrepreneurs who have worked in Russia continuously for at least three years and deducted taxes, levies and charges to the Pension Fund annually to the tune of at least 1 mln rubles;
- investors whose share in the authorized capital of Russian companies specializing in the activities determined by the Russian government amounted to at least 10% within three years. At the same time, the size of these companies’ authorized capital should be no less than 100 mln rubles, while the amount of taxes, levies and charges to the Pension Fund should be at least 6 mln rubles;
- persons who have worked in Russia for at least three years with a specialization in a profession included in the list of the Russian Ministry of Labor and Social Protection;
- disabled persons with adult able-bodied children who are Russian citizens;
- some other categories of children and disabled persons.
In addition, Russian citizenship can be obtained under the simplified procedure by two more groups of foreign citizens and stateless persons (the time period for considering their applications is three months). The first group includes individuals who reside in Russia legally on a permanent basis and who are recognized as native Russian speakers by a special commission set up by the Interior Ministry with the involvement of philologists and linguists. They must pledge to comply with the Russian Constitution and legislation, have legitimate income and renounce foreign citizenship (for Ukrainian citizens, it is enough to submit a notarized copy of the application for renouncing citizenship sent to that country’s diplomatic mission).
The second category includes participants in the State program of assistance to voluntary resettlement of compatriots to the Russian Federation. They must be officially registered in the Russian Federation’s constituent entity chosen by them for permanent residence.
If the application for Russian citizenship is rejected, the applicant may apply for citizenship again in a year’s time.
2018 amendments to the Law on Citizenship
On December 28, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the amendments to the Federal Law on Citizenship. The document vests the head of state with the right to define, for humanitarian purposes, the categories of foreign citizens and stateless persons who are entitled to apply for Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure. That makes it possible to grant Russian citizenship primarily to those who live in countries with a complex socio-political and economic situation, where there are armed conflicts or unconstitutional regime change.
Oath of citizenship
Persons granted Russian citizens are required to take an oath, which reads, "While voluntarily and consciously acquiring the citizenship of the Russian Federation, I swear to comply with the Russian Constitution and legislation, respect the rights and freedoms of its citizens, fulfill my duties as a Russian citizen for the benefit of the state and society, protect freedom and independence of the Russian Federation, be loyal to Russia, respect its culture, history and traditions." Persons under the age of 18, disabled individuals and persons with special disabilities and the ones who are exempt from that duty in accordance with the Russian president’s decisions are exempt from the oath.
Over 1 mln people were granted Russian citizenship in 2012-2017. Of these, 525,000 acquired citizenship under the State program of assistance to voluntary resettlement of compatriots to the Russian Federation.
In 2014, 250,000 people were granted temporary asylum in Russia (in 2013 - 2,822), in 2015 - 149,600, in 2016 - 22,000, in 2017 - 10,400. By the beginning of 2019, 76,000 people had temporary asylum status in Russia (98% of them were refugees from Ukraine).