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Russia Turns to Foreign IT Workers After Wartime Brain Drain

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Russia is simplifying its bureaucratic requirements for foreign IT workers to live and work in the country, authorities announced Wednesday, in a reflection of how the country’s tech sector has been hit by the wartime exodus of Russian software engineers.

“The employment and residence permit acquisition procedures have been simplified for foreign citizens who are IT specialists,” Interior Ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk said.

Foreign software engineers can now sign contracts with accredited Russian IT companies without the requirement to obtain work permits, the Interior Ministry said.

Their family members are entitled to apply for an indefinite residence permit through a simplified process after three months spent in Russia.

The Interior Ministry’s new rules also waive the requirement for Russian employers to obtain permission to hire foreign workers.

Russia’s latest measures to attract foreign talent follow efforts by both state and private companies to keep Russian workers in the country despite Western sanctions and political crackdowns.

Russia’s government estimates that 100,000 IT workers — or 10% of the nation’s tech workforce — have left the country since the invasion of Ukraine.

Officials say 80,000 of them continue to work for Russian companies from abroad.

Russian lawmakers proposed legislation earlier in 2023 that would ban workers in some sectors from working remotely from abroad.

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