The Russian government has announced a bill that seeks to make it easier for international graduates from the country’s universities to obtain citizenship, with changes coming in as early as December 2020. However, only graduates of public, or “state”, educational or scientific institutions will be eligible.
Under the proposed amendments to the Russian Citizenship Law and the Foreign Nationals’ Legal Status Law, graduates would no longer require residence permits meaning they would avoid “complicated procedures” associated with applying for Russian citizenship.
“It would give Russia a competitive advantage in the global education marketplace”
Currently, graduates of Russian institutions can stay in the country after studying as temporary residents, and after working for three years, they can apply for a permanent residence permit.
The government wants to overhaul the procedure by dropping the three-year residency requirement, meaning international students will be entitled to apply for citizenship as soon as they have been awarded a degree from a public or state university.
In 2017 the government announced it would simplify visas for international students in a bid to increase numbers of students opting to choose Russia as a study destination. It also said it would invest US$83.5m in driving numbers up to 710,000 by 2025.
Alexey Maleev, vice-rector for International Programs and Digital Innovation at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology said that human capital is becoming more important than financial or material assets.
“There is a worldwide competition for talent going on, made fiercer by globalisation and increased population mobility,” he said in a statement, adding that “an influx of 20–30-year-olds would be good not only for the country’s economy but also for its demography”.
Head of the International Education Office at Saint Petersburg Polytechnic University Evgeniya Satalkina explained that simplified naturalisation would “increase a gifted foreign graduate’s chances of landing a job with a Russian company and carving out a successful career in this country”.
“On the other hand, it would give Russia a competitive advantage in the global education marketplace and a powerful tool for recruiting talent from around the world, as its universities should see an inflow of students from countries with fewer job opportunities,” she added.
The move will “support Russia’s effort to attract global student talent while providing its companies with employable graduates equipped with sought-after skills”, Alexander Bedny, vice rector for International Affairs at Lobachevsky University said.
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