(Sept. 17, 2009) According to news reports, the legislative agenda of the Federation Council (upper chamber) will include a bill on privileges for those labor migrants who have a knowledge of the Russian language. This bill was approved by the State Duma (lower chamber) in June 2009.
Under the bill, applicants for an extended temporary residence permit will have to pass a test to verify their knowledge of Russian. The test will be conducted by about 160 authorized universities, under a government-approved program, and will be similar to the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The test is not mandatory for guest workers arriving in Russia; however, those who prove their knowledge of the official language of the Russian Federation will be able to apply for a two-year permit instead of the currently issued one-year permit.
According to the U.N. Commission on Population and Development, Russia has the second largest population in the world of foreign migrant workers and about five million illegal aliens. (State Duma Introduces Privileges for Migrants Who Know the Russian Language, June 9, 2009, NEWSRU, available at http://www.newsru.com/russia/09jun2009/rsc_print.html.)