Russia to impose visa, work permit sanctions on Turkey

30 Nov 15

RUSSIAN FEDERATION, TURKEY

IMPACT – HIGH

What is the change? Russian authorities have said they will suspend the country’s visa-free travel agreement with Turkey and stop issuing work permits to Turkish nationals beginning Jan. 1.

What does the change mean? The announcement comes after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet Nov. 24 in circumstances that remain disputed. The imposition of a visa regime and the cessation of work permits would have dramatic impacts on Turkish nationals traveling to Russia or seeking work there.

  • Implementation time frame: Russian officials have said the visa-free scheme will end and work permits will no longer be issued to Turkish nationals beginning Jan. 1.
  • Who is affected: Turkish nationals traveling to, or seeking work in, Russia.
  • Business impact:Business ties between the two countries are strained after Russia announced sanctions on Turkey, including the changes related to visas and work permits.
  • Next Steps:BAL will continue to monitor immigration-related fallout between Russia and Turkey, including how the new rules will develop in practice.

Background: Russia and Turkey have had close business ties and been important trade partners for years, but relations are near a boiling point after the Nov. 24 incident. Russia has said it will suspend a visa-free travel agreement between the two countries that currently provides for stays of up to 30 consecutive days without a visa. Russian authorities also say they intend to stop issuing work permits to Turkish nationals beginning Jan. 1. The Turkish government has not yet issued any formal statements regarding travel or immigration restrictions on Russian nationals.

BAL Analysis: While Russia has announced that it will impose a visa regime and stop issuing work permits to Turkish nationals, the Federal Migration Service has provided no clear indication as to how travel and immigration requests will be handled in practice after Jan. 1.

Turkish nationals traveling to Russia between now and Jan. 1 are advised to keep documents confirming the purpose of their visit, such as letters from the hosting party or a hotel confirmation. Turkish travelers are likewise advised to keep their passport, migration card and (if applicable) work and resident permits with them at all times.

At this point, it is still possible for Turkish nationals to apply for Russian work permits, but employers should prepare for the possibility that new applications may not be approved. Turkish nationals currently in Russia may not want to leave the country even if they have valid immigration documents, as there is no clear instruction from Russian authorities about how Turkish nationals would be treated upon trying to re-enter the country.

As it is an ongoing and developing situation, travelers are advised to contact their BAL representative for the latest update prior to travel.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Russia. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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