the Russian Residence Permit

Selection_006I have recently had to renew my residence permit (Vid Na Zhitelstvo), which was issued four and a half years ago. Recalling the experience of gathering all the documents needed to apply for my ‘temporary’ residence permit, and then the full residence permit, the prospect of renewing my permit did not fill me with joy.

My enquiries started at my local ‘passportny stol,’ where residence permit holders go once a year to ‘re-register’, once a year. Re-registration means proving that you have not been out of the country for more than 6 months by showing the stamps in your passport. A simple form is filled in and bank statements showing that one has more than 120,000 roubles in a Russian bank account, or a valid work contract are shown. This process usually took me about 30 minutes.

At the Passportny Stol I was told that to get my Vid Na Zhitelstvo renewed, I needed to go to the Federal Migration Service УФМС for the Moscow Central Region which deals with residence permits. The address for this office is on Bolshaya Polyanka 33/41, phone number: 8 499 238 4178.

Naturally enough, any encounters with Russian officialdom usually require more than one visit. Queuing comes as default, however on my first visit I waited for all of five minutes before a pleasant 
but official female officer told me that to get my residence permit renewed I need to firstly get my passport translated into Russian and the translation certified by a notary. Then a form needs to be filled in which contains no complex questions apart from stating one’s provable income. I asked if I could not answer this, the answer was
 yes, as long as I proved that I had
 a minimum of R.120,000 in a bank in Russia. I chose to take the capital route. So I then proceeded to get
 a letter from my bank stating how much I had in my account. As my account is in a Russian affiliate of a western bank, the statement was in Russian, and this was enough.

I was also given a paying-in slip to take to a Sberbank, to pay in R. 2,000. I was relieved to discover that no medical is necessary. I was not asked to prove my address or produce any other documents such as a marriage certificate.

On my second visit I had to wait
 considerably longer: 
two hours in a very
 hot corridor. This time I
was asked to re-write certain answers in the application form 
in the correct way. For example one cannot write ‘No’ to the question about whether one has been arrested whilst living here. One 
has to write ‘No, I have not been accused of having committed any crime,’ not just ‘no’. In other words, it is necessary to repeat the question. It is advisable to study ‘correctly filled in forms’ that are pasted on the walls, or take a picture of them and ask 
a literate Russian friend to help you fill them in (in comparison to help offered by literate foreigners with a masters degrees in Russian!). This time I was asked for more financial information. I was asked to supply statements showing the flow of money through my Rouble account and a letter from one of my employers stating that 
I was employed on a regular basis. The letter did not have to state how much I was paid. Luckily all of this was not a problem.

My third visit also entailed a long wait, and this time I was informed that because my passport expires 
in a year, my new Vid na Zhitlestvo would only last one year. But the officer said that if I managed to get a new passport before my present Vid Na Zhitelstvo expired, and presented it within the next three months, I would get a new one for the full five years. On refection I guess it was pretty stupid of me to presume that it could be any other way as the Vid Na Zhiteltsvo is not a passport in itself, rather a document allowing one to enter
 and leave the Russian Federation without a visa, and work here legally. It is issued on the basis of a full, foreign passport, but it is not a passport in itself. On my fourth visit, my documents were accepted. On talking to the
 rather interesting people who 
I got to know whilst queuing
 up; I gathered that each case 
is individual and the officials 
can basically ask for any further documents that they see fit, however the rigorous examination of one’s reason for existence that is carried out when applying for the original residence permit 
is not repeated. Prolonging the permit is more akin to confirming that you are the same person, and that you still have the means to support yourself.