Government to make it easier for foreign students to stay

A new bill, which simplifies the stay of foreign students in Russia, and allows them to stay on for three years after graduation, is being introduced for consideration – and is expected to be approved – by the Russian parliament or State Duma after its prior approval by a special governmental commission on 17 May.

The bill was developed by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs “with the aim of establishing a special legal regime” for foreign citizens and stateless persons undergoing full-time education in Russian universities and research organisations.

At present foreign students receive a temporary residence permit (TRP) in Russia on a general basis within the quota set by the government, which is valid for three years.

The bill proposes to issue the TRP at the request of a foreign student for the duration of his studies and the next 180 days.

Under the terms of the bill, foreign students applying for the permit will be exempted from the obligation to confirm proficiency in the Russian language, knowledge of the history of Russia and the basics of the legislation of Russia.

In addition, they will no longer need to submit an annual notification of their residence.

Moreover, in accordance with the bill, they will be offered the right to obtain a residence permit in the Russian Federation within three years of graduation in a simplified manner.

According to authors of the bill, last year 265,056 foreign students were registered in Russia. Due to the pandemic, their number has more than halved, from 681,832 in 2019.

At the same time, all foreign students leaving Russia during their studies must be deregistered at the place of their residence and register again when returning to the country.

According to an official spokesperson of the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, representatives of universities often do not provide timely information about the arrival of their students, which sometimes leads to students being detained and fined by the police due to administrative failures.

A spokesperson of the ministry’s press service said: “The bill will simplify the procedure for obtaining permits for foreign citizens wishing to study in Russia, will facilitate their further integration into Russian society and contribute to the growth of human and scientific potential of the country.”

In the meantime, the latest state initiative has already been supported by representatives of some leading Russian universities.

Ivan Prostakov, vice-rector of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), one of Russia’s most prestigious universities in the field of economics, told University World News: “The bill prepared by the Ministry of Internal Affairs meets the real needs of migration policy. Russian universities, mainly participants in the 5-100 project, including the HSE, have actively proposed such changes and we welcome this initiative.”

He said similar rules apply to students in other countries, which seek to retain foreign skilled workers in their labour markets through so-called ‘smart’ migration policies.

“Objectively, university graduates are the most promising social group here: years of study allow them to adapt well to the cultural, domestic, legal and economic environment of our country, better learn Russian and to build a career.

“The new bill will be mostly important for young people from countries where the Russian language remains one of the most widely used languages, as the share of such students accounts for 50% [of foreign students] overall, studying at Russian universities.”

A similar view is shared by Sergei Erokhin, head of the Moscow Technical University of Communications and Informatics (MTUSI), one of Russia’s leading technical universities, who told University World News the new bill will enable the recruitment of even more young people interested at studying in Russian universities.

Erokhin said: “Increasing the number of international students will provide an opportunity to strengthen cooperation with other countries and develop international internships.

“MTUSI currently has more than 250 foreign students from 47 countries and there is a possibility these figures will significantly increase already in the short term.”

Alexey Lubkov, head of Moscow State Pedagogical University, told University World News that the bill is relevant and important.

“It will increase the competitiveness of Russian education because the procedure for processing documents related to the stay of foreign students in our country will be simplified.

“It will be easier for the students themselves to obtain a temporary residence permit for the entire period of study and subsequently obtain a residence permit. The burden on the administrative staff of universities, who are engaged in the preparation and execution of documents, will also be reduced.

“Such a law, of course, will simplify the further employment of our foreign graduates in Russia.”