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Russia fast-tracks citizenship obtainment

Posted on Apr 21 2014 | IANS

Moscow, April 21 : President Vladimir Putin Monday signed into law a bill that would ease the requirements for obtaining Russian citizenship.

The law required a foreigner or stateless person applying for a Russian passport to undergo a language test in order to be recognised as a native Russian speaker, Xinhua reported.

It also clarifies that people with parents or grandparents who live or have lived on the territory of the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire, provided they are within the boundaries of the modern Russian Federation, can also apply.

The draft law, introduced by the Federal Migration Service (FMS) in March, opens fast-track citizenship to residents of Finland, parts of Poland and the US state of Alaska.

The Russian Empire at its largest extent in late 19th century included those territories as well as what now are 11 countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and three Baltic republics.

"In order to create favourable conditions for acquisition of Russian citizenship, certain concessionary terms of entry into Russia are introduced, as well as new grounds for extension of a temporary stay in Russia, and a simplified procedure for obtaining a residence permit," it said.

To rule out abuse of the system, residence permits will be revoked if foreigners do not submit an application for Russian citizenship within two years after receiving residency, according to the law.

Last month, Russia's Ministry for Regional Development reported about 36,800 people had legally moved to Russia for permanent residence in 2013, a sharp drop from 2012.

FMS chief Konstantin Romodanovsky said Russia needed to accommodate up to 300,000 people every year until 2025 in order to secure the nation's demographic "safety net".

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