Germany eases visa application process for skilled Russian workers
Germany has announced plans to relax visa requirements for skilled Russian workers who are considering emigrating following the invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the country’s domestic intelligence agency, warned that Russian workers in Germany were at risk of being recruited for industrial espionage.
German visa requirements eased for skilled Russian nationals
In coordination with the federal government, the Federal Employment Agency has issued a so-called “global approval for access to the labour market” for Russian employees of German international companies, provided they are earning a salary of at least 43.992 euros per year.
This special status, which is provisionally in place until the end of September, automatically grants skilled Russian workers a long-term visa (rather than a 90-day Schengen visa), without them needing to obtain the approval of the Federal Employment Agency on a case-by-case basis.
The streamlined process also allows consulates and embassies in Russia to offer collective visa appointments for multiple employees of the same company, and to accept copies of documents sent via email (rather than requiring the originals to be sent in the post, as is usually the case).
According to a spokesperson for the Federal Foreign Office, more than 600 visas were issued for Russian skilled workers between the beginning of the war and the beginning of May. Around 30 percent of these applicants were already in Germany. Ukrainian refugees fleeing the conflict have already been given immediate right to stay in the EU for up to one year without needing a visa or residence permit.
Russian workers in Germany at risk of blackmail, security agency warns
The news came just after the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution warned of a heightened risk of industrial espionage as a result of the sanctions imposed on Russia. It said that Russian nationals in Germany faced a higher risk of being blackmailed or put under pressure to pass on information that could be potentially beneficial to the increasingly isolated Russian economy.
“Russia is increasingly isolated through the sanctions imposed in reaction to the war in Ukraine,” the report stated. “Its economy is cut off from the know-how and technologies of the west.”
The intelligence agency said that recruitment attempts could happen during official appointments with Russian agencies, or that pressure might be exerted via reprisals against friends and family who have remained in Russia.
A German government spokesperson said that all visa applications were being thoroughly vetted: “Standard security checks of applicants are being made within the visa process.”
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