Russia is poised to ease immigration restrictions for highly-qualified foreign specialists in a bid to encourage the free flow of trade and investment in the country, a Russian business daily said on Friday.
Russia's Economic Development Ministry has recently drafted a federal law easing the county's immigration regulations after repeated calls from President Dmitry Medvedev.
A government official told Vedomosti that Russia's main goal at the moment is to try to attract the "best brains" to a country which, as part of the Soviet Union, dominated science for decades, saying that "modernization without an intelligent workforce is impossible."
"We have already tried out this mechanism with France. Russia has signed an agreement with it on preferential treatment for highly-qualified specialists, directors, members of their families and accompanying colleagues," Oleg Artamonov, head of Russia's Federal Migration Service, said.
He added that optimizing the country's visa and migration regime, which many see as a hangover from the Soviet era, is the key to drawing in top scientists and investors.
Evgeny Reizman, a partner of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie, agreed with Artamonov, saying that "investment from abroad is to some degree hindered by immigration barriers."
The Economic Development Ministry's proposals would annul immigration and work permit quotas for foreign specialists, while also reducing the lengthy bureaucratic procedures which have put many a bright brain off moving to Russia.
"When people see how the migration authorities are treating them, their desire to work in Russia rapidly wanes," Vedomosti quoted Sergei Guriyev, rector of a Moscow economy school, as saying.
While it often takes up to two years to supply and process all the necessary documentation, the officials vow to reduce the 'bureaucratic drag' to just under a month.
The ministry has also proposed granting foreign specialists extended work permits that would cover all of Russia's regions in a bid to replace present regulations that force non-Russian specialists to apply for only one-year work permits in specific regions.
The authorities expect to bring the new regulations in as soon as January 1, 2011.
MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti)