Saturday, March 2, 2013

Permanent Residency in St. Petersburg

There is no telling what a particular Russian migration office will require, but I can give a few hints as to what worked for me. 

Introduction: (scroll down for application specifics)

There was one seemingly big obstacle to applying for Permanent Residency in St. Petersburg, and that was the income requirement. I squeaked by yearly inspection while on temporary residency, without ever holding an official job. Migration services wanted to see that I'd paid taxes; they didn't seem to care where the money actually came from (mostly from funds in the U.S.).

Making an income statement poses a problem for ex-pats living in St.Petersburg and other parts of Russia, especially if they are missionaries or otherwise involved in non-profit work, funded abroad.

Some missionaries have a "salary" from their home organizations, and can present this statement to the Russian government as sufficient money for them to live on.

Other missionaries are employed by local organizations, whether that's non-profit, teaching English, or some other business involvement.

But what about if I do some mix of volunteering/tutoring/teaching, and I don't have a work permit, and I don't receive a regular salary from anywhere? On the one hand, my calling to be here seemed to be clear enough that I was willing to find employment in order to stay in Russia.

However, what if I ended up being out of work temporarily? Or wanted to stay home with a child? What if my husband and I wanted to live solely on his salary, even if it didn't even meet the minimum income level required for residency?

I could understand having a work visa that would be tied to a specific contract, but I envisioned my activities growing and changing over the years. I seek God's will about these things, but do I want my every move to be dictated by requirements for staying in Russia? Can I live with that kind of restriction full-time?

At the end of 2012, I learned something useful. Residency requirements no longer called for proof of employment/monthly salary; instead, a bank account balance could be used to prove means of support. THAT I could handle.

And so, I decided to apply. Here are a few helpful bits of information:

1) Timing: I got my medical tests done and began attempting to apply about 9 1/2 months before my TRP ran out. The latest you can apply is 6 months before it expires. When I actually handed in my documents, I had less than one month to spare. In addition, I was 3 or 4 days from my medical forms expiring. Do the math in advance if you are thinking about applying.

2) The application: When I was applying for temporary residency, some friends who had done it ahead of me in the same office graciously let me "copy" their application. There is some very specific wording that you need to use. Thanks to their template, I got it correct on the first try.

Then, when I was applying for permanent residency, I used the same template. Well, it's a different office and a different ballgame. I had MANY mistakes to fix, and had to redo the whole application and come in on a later date to try again.

3) The photos: Yes, they measure them with a ruler :).

4) The documents: I never got my hands on the real "list," but here is what she asked to see, and/or hand in:

  • Passport original, translation, and copies of ALL marked pages (my translation did not have the latest stamps and she let me just submit photocopies separately). 
  • If married: marriage certificate and copy, spouse's original passport and copies of all marked pages
  • Latest inspection receipt
  • Receipt for having paid the govt. fee
  • Application (2 copies, each 4 pages double-sided)
  • 6 photographs
  • Income statement (I used a bank statement)
  • Tax identification number (original certificate)
  • Birth certificate (not sure how strict they are on this one)
  • Medical forms, plus HIV+ results
5) Proof of income: I have some money in an account here in U.S. dollars (long story). It turned out to be enough to meet requirements. The bank would only show the amount in dollars, but the migration officer let me print out the exchange rate from the bank's website, and then I indicated the ruble-equivalent in my application. I think she was a bit lenient on this but maybe there would be a way to get the bank to issue a more official statement.

That's pretty much it! Aside from needing to fix mistakes in the application, I just had to produce Andrei's passport, which I hadn't known would be needed.

I got a note telling me to come back in 6 months. See you in August, Madame Inspector!


  1. Goodness!

    What is the "inspection" you speak of (that you had a receipt for)?

    I am still flummoxed since Russia apparently wants lots of new Russian children, why they'd make it so difficult for you. Seems to me that once you got married, AND have a baby, things would be easier.

  2. We've also had to supply a copy of our baby's birth certificate and 6 photos of her, even though she was born here.

    1. I never "claimed" David in my application as he wasn't born in Russia and there wasn't a question about children. I guess at some point we will be filling out an application for him separately, though. He was so little at the time that I just couldn't handle another set of documents.


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