The sanctions against Russia are forcing many Russian employees of local German companies to leave the country for Germany. The federal government is reacting to this and is facilitating access to work visas. What will please many employers concerns the protection of the constitution.
Since the beginning of the Russian attack on Ukraine, hundreds of professionals from Russia have chosen to relocate to Germany. Above all, employees of German companies, who face an uncertain professional future because of the sanctions imposed on Russia, decide to take this step.
"In April, around 350 work visas were issued to Russian nationals in Moscow," according to the Foreign Office. In Saint Petersburg, the German consulate general issued 190 work visas in the same period. According to information from the German Press Agency, the majority of the specialists who are leaving the country have already worked for a German company in Russia.
"In the weeks since the beginning of the war, we have provided support for more than 400 applications for work visas from Russian citizens who want to come to Germany," says Katharina Vorländer, a lawyer at the law firm Fragomen Global LLP in Frankfurt am Main, which specializes in labor migration. Around 30 percent of these applicants are already in Germany.
This was only possible at this speed because there was “support from the German authorities in this special situation, which we don’t necessarily always experience otherwise”. For example, the Federal Foreign Office, in consultation with the German embassy in Moscow and the consulate general in St. Petersburg, offered collective appointments for several dozen employees of a company to submit applications, "which we were happy to accept," reports the lawyer. Since there is currently no postal service from Germany to Russia to send original documents, the embassy and consulate have agreed to dispense with originals in individual cases and accept documents submitted by e-mail.
So that the approval of the Federal Employment Agency, which is required for visas for employed persons, does not have to be obtained individually in each case, the Federal Employment Agency, in coordination with the Federal Government, has issued a "global approval for the labor market admission for all Russian skilled workers who are to continue to be employed in Germany by their previous employer " granted. It is valid until the end of September. "The initiative usually comes from the companies, some of which are relocating entire departments to Germany," says attorney Vorländer. This applies, among other things, to corporations from the IT and automotive sectors, but also to some medium-sized companies.
According to a spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office, more than 600 visas for Russian specialists were issued between the beginning of the war and the beginning of May. The visas for gainful employment are national visas that allow a longer stay, not so-called Schengen visas that allow a stay of up to 90 days in Germany and the Schengen area. Only a few of the employees of German companies who now want to move from Russia to Germany have previous knowledge of the German language, says Vorländer. For some jobs, such as programmers, this is probably not a big hurdle. "We notice when we call people in Russia that the situation is not easy for the individual employees either," reports the lawyer. "The tension is palpable, because it's often about the fact that the family should also travel with us."
The protection of the constitution sees an increased risk of industrial espionage because of the sanctions imposed on Russia. The Russian economy is being cut off from know-how and technologies, writes the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) in a current security advisory. There is a risk that there could be more attempts to initiate contacts, especially by employees in branches of industry and research relevant to Russia, also in Germany. Employees with Russian nationality are particularly at risk.