No visa news, but I finally found a helpful website that explains the process in steps.
I'm going to paste some excerpts here.
Justification for obtaining a work visa:
-In general, a foreign employee assigned to work in the Russian Federation should have a degree of appropriate knowledge, specialized skills or managerial/executive-level skills that are not available in Russia's labour market. [native English speaker will suffice]
-A foreign employee may not convert her/his immigration status from a "Visitor" (travelling on the basis of a tourist or business visa) to "Work" status while remaining in Russia. [this just means that you have to leave the country to get the new kind of visa. So, even if my invitation had been ready in October as expected, I still would have needed to make a visa trip somewhere]
Here's the process. It's pretty long. I'll try to break it down.
1) What is required of the employer (the company where I teach): In order to sponsor a work permit application, a Russian company sponsor must first be formally registered in Russia. That sponsor must then obtain an employment permit; this process involves an evaluation of the application by three different Russian government agencies: The Local Employment Service, the Moscow Department of Federal Employment Service and the Federal Migration Service.
2) More requirements for the employer: Obtaining the employment permit is a three-step process.
-First, the corporate sponsor must obtain approval to employ foreign employees from the Local Employment Service. This step generally requires a processing time of 21 business days.
-Second, the sponsor must obtain approval to employ foreign employees from the Federal Employment Service (Moscow Department). The approximate processing time for this step is 10-14 business days.
-Third, the employment permit is obtained from the Federal Migration Service, a process that requires approximately 30 business days. Please note that in some regions of the Russian Federation, obtaining the employment permit requires the additional step of obtaining an opinion from the local Trade Union authorities. This process requires roughly 10-12 business days.
3) Then, what pertains to me, the employee: Once the employment permit is successfully obtained, the work permit is obtained by submitting an application to the Local Migration Service (Migration Service of the Central Department of Internal Affairs in Moscow). This process requires approximately 21 business days.
4) And finally, the visa application: The next step towards completing the process is obtaining separate invitation letters allowing the employee and each accompanying family member to apply for a single entry visa for the purposes of work from the Russian Consulate with jurisdiction over his or her place of legal residence. The sponsoring company should apply to the Passport and Visa Department to obtain the invitation letters on behalf of the employee and each family member. Upon issue of the invitation letters, the employee and family members can apply for her/his single entry visa. A personal appearance at the Russian consulate to obtain this single entry visa is not required.
5) For some reason you are supposed to get one kind of work visa first, and then you can change the length of it once you're in Russia. Once the single entry visa for the purposes of work and residence is obtained through the Consulate, the employee (and family members, if applicable) may enter Russia and immediately commence to work. However, immediately upon arrival, the employee and family members must undergo the formalities of registering with the Passport and Visa Department, and converting their single entry visas into multiple entry visas valid up to 1 year.
Then, just to make your head spin, here are some of the documents required for various steps in the process.
Russian Corporate Documents Required for Employment Permit
The sponsoring Russian employer must present the following documents:
1. Charter (3 notarised copies);
2. Certificate of Registration;
3. Certificate of entry into the Consolidated State Register (3 notarised copies);
4. Licence (if any, 3 notarised copies);
5. Statistic Committee Certificate (3 notarised copies);
6. Certificate of registration at Tax Inspectorate (3 notarised copies);
7. Draft of labour agreement with the foreign employee;
8. Lease agreement on premises occupied by foreign employee (a copy);
9. Power of Attorney (to be drafted by local vendor);
10. Balance-sheet for the most recent quarter, if applicable (a copy and the original);
11. Bank reference (funds on account);
12. Original of receipt for payment of the state duty (3,000 rubles and 1,000 rubles for each foreign employee);
13. Original of documents proving the payment of deposit, which is required in case of employee's departure from the Russian Federation
Employee and Family Documents (Most Commonly Requested)
The following personal documents are required to obtain work permit:
1. Passport copies of a foreign employee's and each family member's passports. Passports should be valid no less than for 6 months.
2. Copy of Certificate proving the foreign employee's professional education, obtained in the foreign state or equivalence of such a document to a Russian certificate of the professional education.
3. Medical examination by a registered physician in a Russian State clinic certifying that the applicant is free of tuberculosis, leprosy, HIV, syphilis, chlamydia and genital chancres. For those persons applying for a Residence Permit in Moscow, an additional test certifying a negative result for the presence of narcotics is also required. Medical Certificates cannot be issued for more than 90 days from the exam date.
4. 2 photographs 3x4 (mat, colour) of the employee and each family member;
5. Notarised copy of the spouse's Marriage Certificate.
6. Notarised copy of each child's birth certificate with names of both parent's evidenced.
Documents Required to Apply for a Work Visa
Following are the documents required to obtain the work visa, which should be provided by the foreign employee to the Russian Consulate:
1. Application form;
2. Passport copy (necessary pages) of a foreign employee. Passport should be valid no less than for 6 months;
3. Copy of employment permit with grant of original;
4. Copy of work permit (a plastic card) with grant of original;
5. 3 photographs 3x4 (mat, colour) – for re-registration of a single entry visa into a multiple exit-entry visa;
6. Required application fee.
And finally, the time-frame.
According to the site, the approximate time to assemble all corporate and employee's personal documentation is approximately one month. The term for obtaining the employment permit is 2 months. The work permit is obtained within 21 working days. Single entry work visa can be obtained within 12 working days, the multiple entry one – within 21 working days.
My employer started the process in June. The first step should have been completed in July and the second step in September. I submitted documents to my boss sometime in October, so I assume the work permit is underway.
But, I haven't actually been notified if any of those steps have been completed. For all I know, the company is still probably trying to obtain the employment permit. That means it will be another 21 days to get the work permit and another 2-3 weeks to get the actual visa.
I have started looking for other options, but I don't have any ideas right now!