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Source - The Bell

Special war-time emigration. How can Russians find a job abroad in 2022

04.05.2022

Since February 24, tens to hundreds of thousands of people have emigrated from Russia, according to various estimates. Some have left to wait out the acute phase of the invasion of Ukraine, but many have no plans to return even after the fighting is over.

One of the most pressing problems for those who emigrate for good is finding a job abroad and establishing themselves in a new country. In this article, we will tell you whether a Russian passport interferes with employment, where to look for jobs abroad, and why it is a bad idea to talk about politics at international interviews.

WHO HELPS THE RUSSIANS WITH RELOCATION

"Many of my friends ended up on the list of foreign agents. They had to leave and set up life from scratch in other countries. These are mainly people from the creative domains: journalists, photographers, designers - people who find it very difficult to find work during crisis. These professions are considered nonessential to the economy and suffer first," said Katya Gaika, former TV and photo journalist and now founder of the Baza recruitment agency and the Baza.One project for finding work abroad.

In early March, she herself moved to Turkey - "general disapproval of what was going on added to the desire to help my friends somehow". She then started collecting resumes of job seekers from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.

There are now about 150 resumes in the database. When the number of resumes reaches 500+, Katya and her team will start promoting the candidates in the international business communities. She is not planning to monetize this part of the project yet.

Irina Lobanovskaya, the founder of the Telegram chat room "Russian Relocation Guide" that now has almost 100 thousand members, also started collecting resumes of Russian-speaking candidates.

"Initially, I simply wanted to collect the stories of people from my inner circle - those who emigrated in the last two years. With their help, I wanted to create an instruction manual for anyone who wanted to leave the country and distribute it. I realized that there would be demand for it, but I had no idea it would be so huge," Lobanovskaya told Meduza (the publication is recognized by the Ministry of Justice as a foreign media agent).

Irina attributes the channel's sudden popularity to the fact that people "want to unite, because they've lost their country”.

During the first wave, people who left either to wait out the acute phase of the conflict or had long been preparing to emigrate. Now they have been joined by people who hope to stay abroad for a long time, but have no idea what to do there, says Lobanovskaya:

“If you write [texts] in Russian [professionally], what will you do in another country? It's a complicated question. It became obvious that we needed to launch another initiative - helping with employment abroad."

The "Russian Relocation Guide" has two closed forms. One for is to submit your resume and the other to add a company that is willing to consider candidates for a job. Irina also created the guide itself - it is called "Emigration from Russia to the Free World". It is public and is constantly updated.

Marina Mogilko, blogger and founder of the LinguaTrip startup, helps Russians in the U.S. with their relocation and job search.

In the first days of the "special operation" she was contacted  by a subscriber from Ukraine - "a girl-student who was sitting in a bomb shelter and asked for some kind of assignment, because this way she could be distracted from what was going on.”

Marina asked her to prepare a selection of trending TikToks and write some scripts for the videos.

"The girl did it flawlessly, and I thought: for sure, there are many people in my network in Silicon Valley who would like to help Ukrainians and Russians in a difficult situation, looking for work, and at the same time to find cool employees," Mogilko recalls.

That idea soon evolved into a website and two telegram channels for offline and remote jobs in the United States, which now have 20,000 and 78,000 followers, respectively.

Besides volunteers, international HR counselors and career advisors also work with Russian-speaking candidates.

EP Advisory, which has been advising Russians looking for jobs at international companies since 2017, saw a fivefold increase in traffic to its website in the early days of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and helped about 20 candidates from Russia find jobs in two months. These candidates now work at Deloitte, Disney, Facebook and other major companies and startups, says EP Advisory consultant Eka Vankova.

Services of professional assistants are usually paid and for applicants and employers: in EP Advisory, for example, packages of access to the platform cost from £195 (18 thousand rubles at the exchange rate on April 28) to £1455 (132 thousand rubles). The maximum package includes writing a resume and cover letter, completing a LinkedIn profile, assistance from a personal consultant, and access to contacts of expats who are willing to advise companies in their country. Since February 24, the company has also held more than 300 free consultations for anyone affected by the "special operation."

WHERE AND HOW TO MOVE

The past two months have brought quite a lot of disappointing news to those who wanted to emigrate from Russia. Latvia has suspended issuance of residence permits to Russians under real estate investment programs and startup visas until the summer of 2023. Spain did the same, but has not made it public yet, according to relocation expert from the Hello Move service, Pavel Smirnov. The Netherlands suspended issuing even short-term visas, since April 27. In Germany, the Ministry of Interior recommended large companies to limit access to their systems for Russian developers, according to local media reports.

But those seeking employment have not actually been affected by the restrictions, says Alexei Pospekhov, founder of Missiontech.co, a platform to help with relocation to Europe:

"The procedure for obtaining a type D work visa in the EU for Russian citizens has not changed significantly. The only point is that the imigration services might ask for additional documents to make their decision. It could be, for example, CVs or recommendations from former employers."

Alternative programs, which can be used for long-term stay in the country without being linked to a specific employer, are also still in use. Here are the main ways to get into Western countries if you are employed:

UK

- Skilled Worker Visa (formerly Tier 2 General)

A work visa that is suitable for a fairly wide range of occupations, from firefighters and EMTs to IT specialists and bureaucrats (a full list of occupations is listed here).

Most often employers sponsor this type of visa for professionals in marketing, finance, IT development and other domains, who have studied in UK and want to return on a work visa from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, says EP Advisory consultant Eka Vankova.

It is not easy to get a Skilled Worker Visa. In order to hire a foreigner, the employer needs to get a license from the immigration service to sponsor the visa. The number of licenses is limited, although in the past 2 years and has doubled to 30 thousand. British companies were preparing for Brexit and were aware that they will have to bring in professionals from abroad, Vankova explains.

The license is valid for 4 years (after it expires, it is necessary to go through the procedure all over again), applications are considered individually.

When and if the state approves the license, the company must pay £199 for each certificate, as well as a fee of £364 to £1000 for the first 12 months of work of the foreigner and £182-500 for each subsequent 6 months, depending on the size of the company.

"There have been cases in our experience when a company was so inspired by a Russian candidate that they got a license specifically for him," Vankova notes.

During the pandemic, she says, the number of jobs in Britain has increased; there is high demand for Russian-speaking lawyers, developers, online marketers and anyone who works with content.

"Britain left the EU, and now even Europeans need work visas. As a result, more companies have shown willingness to relocate successful candidates. This trend continues."

- Global Talent Visa

This type of visa was seriously revamped in 2019, amid a shortage of skilled workers as a result of Brexit (formerly called Exceptional Talent Tier 1).

The visa gives freedom of action in the country - you can develop your own business or research projects, or you can get a job without being attached to one employer, says Anastasia Mirolyubova, co-founder of the immigration platform Immigram.

Unlike the Skilled Worker Visa, which covers almost all possible occupations, the Global Talent list is limited to three areas: science, art and IT.

The visa gives you right to live in Britain for 3-5 years. Global Talent Visa has a subtype - Tech Nation, for digital talent. It is designed for both entrepreneurs and employees.

There is good news for Russians. On March 10 an update appeared on the site dedicated to the rules of receiving Tech Nation. Firstly, the British government is considering applications from people of any nationality currently residing in Ukraine and those trying to leave it. Secondly, applications are accepted from all citizens of Ukraine and Russia, regardless of their location, who are employed by British companies remotely.

- High Potential Individual Visa

On March 15, 2022, the UK government published details of the new visa routes.

Of those, High Potential Individual (HPI) is the closest alternative to the Skilled Worker Visa. It is suitable for those who have graduated from a qualified overseas university in the last 5 years.

The university must appear in at least two of the following rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings or The Academic Ranking of World Universities. The applicant must go through the same visa sponsorship process as the Skilled Worker Visa, show a minimum verified income and an appropriate language level. The visa will be valid from May 30, will be issued for 2 years for bachelors and 3 years for holders of doctoral degrees.

- Scale-up Visa

This type should help companies hire highly skilled workers in their fast-growth stage.

The applicant needs to have a job offer from a British company, corresponding to graduate level or above, a salary of £33,000 per year and to know the language.

The UK company, as with the Skilled Worker Visa, must apply in advance for a sponsorship license. The visa type will be valid from August 22 and will be issued for 2 years with an option to bring spouses, children, and other close relatives. After 5 years of employment in the UK under this visa, the foreigner will be allowed to apply for citizenship, if they continue to receive income of not less than £33,000 a year under the PAYE system.

EU COUNTRIES

- Blue card

This is a skilled worker visa, valid throughout the EU, except Denmark and Ireland.

For blue card, higher education can sometimes be replaced by experience of more than 5 years in a position which requires a higher education.

To qualify for the blue card, you must have a working contract with a resident company of the country that issues the visa, or legally fixed offer for at least six months, as well as a confirmed income of at least 100% of the average annual salary in the country that issues the visa.

In 2019, the conditions for obtaining a blue card became more liberal: for example, self-employed people can also apply for a visa. Most often blue cards are issued by Germany, Spain and The Netherlands, and the top recipients are Russians and Ukrainians, says Eka Vankova.

Since February 24, the conditions for obtaining this type of visa have changed in Latvia: they now need to have not only an apostilled graduation diploma or at least 5 years of experience, but also a certificate of income tax payment and a copy of the employment record book, says Alexei Pospekhov of Missiontech.co.

At the same time, even though Latvia stopped issuing start-up visas for Russians, there is a legal loophole: you can register your own company and hire yourself as an employee - in this case there will be grounds for applying for a residence permit, the expert advises.

- Business Harbour

The program was launched at the beginning of 2022 by the Polish government and has not been canceled following the conflict in Ukraine. Business Harbour allows citizens of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan to obtain work permits on an expedited basis. This opportunity applies primarily to IT-specialists and startup. Business Harbour applications get first priority in the Polish Embassy.

USA

- H-1B

The U.S. H-1B work visa can be obtained, but the process requires time. There are no restrictions by the U.S. government on issuing the visas to Russians or Russian speakers from CIS countries, except for those who are subject to individual sanctions, emphasizes Eka Vankova.

The H-1B process is similar to the British system. The procedure is the responsibility of the employer, who must prove to the authorities that he has not found suitable candidates in the United States. Then they need to get a quota for the license and pay the future employee to get a visa - $190 as a visa fee, $2250 as an additional fee for all foreign employees (not more than 25 people per company with a maximum of 50 people) and $500 for each foreigner to prevent fraud.

The H-1B applicant must show at least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent.

There is an annual quota for this type of visa (85 thousand), with more than 200 thousand applicants in recent years, Vankova quotes. The application may take up to a year. The H-1b selection is a lottery and happens completely random.

- L1

This visa is designed for managers and executives of international companies who may be transferred, for example, from the Russian office to the American one. Besides the company's intention for the transfer, the applicant must have at least one year of managerial experience outside the United States. The review process takes from 1 up to 7 months.

There are no legal or immigration problems with the visa itself, despite the political situation. However, it has become more difficult to obtain the visa due to problems with Russian banks hit by the sanctions. The confirmation of financial solvency and transfer of the employee's salary in the United States may be a long and difficult process, Vankova warns.

- O1

A work visa of up to 3 years, intended for foreigners with extraordinary ability in science, education, business or sports, outstanding skill in the arts or very high achievements in the film or television industry. All of these merits must be supported by international or national prizes, publications in science journals or in media, membership in organizations that require outstanding achievements, a high degree of income, participation on boards or experience in assessing the evaluation of others, proof of experience in organizations with strong reputations.

The applicant must have an offer from a U.S. employer. The processing time is about 6 months.

Part of the processing takes place in the U.S., but you do not have to be in the country. The lawyer or the employer will submit the application to the immigration office. When it comes to receiving the visa, it must be done in person.

"U.S. consulates are closed in Russia since March 2021, so you will need to go to a consulate in another country that accepts non-residents. Appointment schedule at these consulates is very tight, you should not expect an available date in the next month", - explains Vankova.

- Green card lottery

Green Card - this is a residence permit, which gives the right to live and work indefinitely in the U.S. (as long as no offense is committed). After 5 years the foreigner can apply for citizenship.

Foreigners can win the green card through a lottery - the winners are chosen randomly from the applicants regardless of their education, experience, or language skills. Applications are accepted in the fall (starting Oct. 6 in 2022) and drawn in the spring (May 8 this year).

It's the easiest but uncontroversial way to qualify for long-term residency in the U.S., notes Katja Gaika from Baza.One.

- EB-1

Not only is it possible to get the green card through the lottery, but also through the EB-1 visa for outstanding professionals. EB-1 status also allows you to stay in the U.S. indefinitely and apply for citizenship after 5 years. This type of visa has several categories:

  • EB-1A - for professionals with outstanding achievements;
  • EB-1B - for outstanding researchers who plan to teach at universities and scientific academic institutions in the United States;
  • EB-1C - for senior executives and senior managers of companies with offices inside and outside the United States.

Depending on the visa type, the applicant must meet a number of criteria, for example, be a national or international award winner, be the subject of articles in major media, be a jury member of competitions in his field of expertise, be an author of scientific articles, participant of exhibitions, have at least one year of experience as a top manager or a senior executive in the last 3 years. You can see the full list of requirements here.

WHERE AND HOW TO LOOK FOR A JOB ABROAD

When a candidate has decided which type of visa they target, it's time to start looking for jobs, says Eka Vankova of EP Advisory. There are several ways to monitor offers from foreign companies, but the most effective is the Jobs section on LinkedIn.

"I know that the network is blocked in Russia, but I advise you to install a VPN, fill out your profile properly and respond to job postings", the consultant advises.

The effectiveness of LinkedIn is confirmed by Russian-speaking employees of foreign companies interviewed by The Bell.

"For foreigners it is the main way to maintain business connections and present themselves professionally. You don't need to be shy about responding to vacancies and writing personal messages to people from a company you are interested in (but only through LinkedIn, no Instagram or Messenger before getting to know each other in person!). This way you can test the vibe of the future team and even ask to get referred to an HR person," advises 24-year-old Daria Pudovkina, who found a job at Allsop Intelligent Software Solutions in Belfast.

Victoria, employed by the British office of Dentsu, got a place in the holding, that she dreamed of working at, thanks to a personal message on LinkedIn. She wrote to the manager, whom she found just by the company name. He then promised to let her know if there were open positions, and a few months later the employer invited her for an interview, which ended in a job offer.

Anna, who received an offer from a consulting company in London (she preferred not to disclose the name and brand of the company), also calls LinkedIn "the best tool of all that she tried”.

IS THE RUSSIAN PASSPORT TOXIC TODAY

Over the past two months, none of the speakers interviewed had encountered open discrimination because of Russian citizenship.

"Russia became toxic abroad back in 2014, after 'Crimea is ours' slogans" says Katya Gaika of Baza.One. She recalls that several people she knew of Russian origins had problems servicing U.S. bank accounts and getting investments from U.S. funds back then.

Today's U.S. corporate culture does not tolerate discrimination based on nationality or even questions of citizenship, says Andrei Doronichev, a former Google manager and co-founder of Mesto on the Map, a relocation assistance project for Russian-speaking professionals.

Olesya Polishchuk, who took a job in the U.S. office of a Big Four company in March, agrees:

"Maybe in the more conservative states in the south employers allow themselves to ask something about a passport, but in big cities - New York, San Francisco - it's impossible to imagine."

At the first interview , HR people are interested in the legal status of the candidate - they ask on what grounds and how long the person can stay in the country, says Anna, who received an offer in London: "This is an understandable practical question for the employer.”

However, a few weeks ago, her friend, who was trying to get a job in Britain, was called after a successful first interview, and was asked about her citizenship. Then they rejected her, claiming that there is a more suitable candidate.

"It would be difficult to prove in court that this is discrimination based on nationality. But for ourselves we decided that it was exactly that. Why would the passport matter, as long as the person stays legally in the country?" - Anna objects.

Alexander Kabanets, marketing director of the American social network NUTSon, did not face questions about citizenship personally. But his friend, a former Sibur manager, has not succeeded to find work in the oil and gas sector in the United States.

"No one asked anything directly, but as soon as it came to filling out a form with passport data, they turned him around. I think a lot depends on the sector: it's a conservative industry that lives by its own rules. Startups or IT-corporations probably don't have such stories."

Questions on the candidate’s attitude towards the situation in Ukraine are also not asked at interviews. They may ask, at most, if the applicant themselves or their family were affected by the conflict.

"Politics, religion, sexual orientation, and money are taboo topics in corporate circles. Discussing them outside of a tight circle of family or close friends is bad form," says Eka Vankova of EP Advisory.

Kabanets advises to take a stand on the conflict, because it is "far beyond geopolitics now and has moved into the category of basic values which cannot be ignored.” Anna did exactly that in the first days of the "special operation". When asked "how are you?" she replied that "I am fine myself, but there is a nightmare going on in politics.”

"The reactions were appropriate, people empathized, but never expanded on the topic. Now that emotions have settled, starting a business conversation with a political statement is a bad idea, "- said the manager, who received an offer in London.

In general, getting a job in a foreign or international company and leave Russia based on that is now possible, summarizes Vankova. "There are many unresolved conflicts in the world. It does not stop residents of the countries involved in these conflicts from finding their dream job.”

Katya Gaika agrees with her: "Regular Americans do not oppose Russians from obtaining visas or employment on purpose, quite the contrary. And the U.S. bureaucratic machine has not legally directed to discriminate against non-sanctioned Russians, as far as I know.”

The international market is highly competitive, and it's difficult to be in it "not because you're Russian, but because you have to compete with people from all over the world."

"Employers, other things being equal, will always prefer a risk-free hire - their own resident or someone with a clear legal status in the country," concludes Anna from London based consulting firm. – “It is possible to get a visa and move away from Russia at the employer's expense, but you have to be one step ahead of the competition.”

Source: The Bell

“An unknown future is better than a future of violence, censorship and broken lives”. Fifth wave of emigration.
Emigration

“An unknown future is better than a future of violence, censorship and broken lives”. Fifth wave of emigration.