Russian citizenship for foreign students who graduate

The government plans to open up Russian citizenship to many foreign students after graduation and ease restrictions on side jobs for foreign students studying in Russia.

In addition, the quotas for foreign students taking state-funded places at Russian universities will be almost doubled.

The package of benefits to foreign students and graduates of domestic universities is designed to attract more young talent from abroad and raise the prestige of Russian higher education in the international arena, according to recent statements made by senior state officials and industry analysts.

With regard to citizenship, at this stage a draft bill has been designed by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. According to a ministry spokesperson, the simplified procedure will apply only to full-time foreign students who graduate with honours at state universities of Russia.

The design of the draft bill became part of a recent order of Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to the national government to create conditions for granting citizenship to foreign graduates of domestic universities.

Medvedev said: “Now we are preparing a bill, aimed at ensuring foreign graduates of Russian universities come here and obtain Russian citizenship as quickly as possible. The adoption of the bill is in Russian national interests.”

In addition to citizenship, the government is also planning to simplify the procedure for obtaining a temporary residence permit for foreigners who have studied at Russian universities.

Starting from next year, the government is also planning to lift the existing restrictions on side jobs for foreign students during non-study time at domestic universities.

The current Russian legislation in the field of higher education allows a foreign student to earn extra money without special permits to work in Russia only during the summer holidays or at enterprises established by universities themselves.

According to experts, lifting of the existing restrictions should greatly simplify the employment of foreign students in Russia during their studies.

Finally, the existing quota for tuition fee-free education of foreign students in Russia will be doubled in 2020, according to recent statements of Mikhail Bryukhanov, deputy head of Rossotrudnichestvo, a Russian government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid.

Currently the number of foreign students who study at state-funded places in Russian universities is capped at 15,000; however, it should grow up to 30,000, starting already from 2020.

According to Bryukhanov, so far the government has already reserved funds for these needs.

In the meantime, according to Ilyas Umakhanov, deputy speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, the proposed additional benefits to foreign students are part of the existing federal project, ‘Export of Education’, which involves a massive increase in the number of foreign students at Russian universities, up to 425,000 by 2024, compared to 240,000 in 2018.

The figure includes the state-funded and paid departments, as well as all levels of education – from bachelor to postgraduate degrees. These figures, however, are significantly lower than the initial increases planned – to have 710,000 foreign students studying at Russian universities by 2025.