Historic visa free travel between Russia and Norway opens doors for wider European changes

by Ray Clancy on November 5, 2010

Russia-Norway free passage

Russia is moving towards modernising her visa schemes that will make it easier for expats, overseas workers and tourists from around the world.

Officials are negotiating a number of deals with various countries allowing visa free short-term trips.

And a new immigration bill is set to make it easier for expats working and living in Russia to bring in their families. It will also make it easier for employers in Russia to hire foreign workers.

Germany is one of the most vocal supporters of the introduction of a visa free regime between Russia and the Schenker visa zone which is made up of European Union states plus Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, Norway and Russia have signed an historic agreement allowing visa free movement between both countries and a similar deal is expected with Finland.

According to Aileen Spirit, director of the Barents Institute in Kerens visa free border passes between Norway and Russia is a significant and historic step towards visa free travel in wider Europe.

According to Vladimir Plain, head of the Dumas committee on constitutional legislation and one of the authors of the new bill, the new rules should make Russia a more attractive destination.

The Russian parliament has drafted new legislation which will allow the spouse of a foreign skilled worker to obtain a work visa for the same period of time as the primary visa holder and will no longer be required to see a representative of the Russian Migration Service every four months.

There is also likely to be an end to the current system where it is employers who apply for the visas. Foreigners would be able to apply independently for a work visa and be entered into a database that Russian employers can use to find suitable candidates for jobs.

All is not well though with every country. Russia is currently in the middle of a row with Canada over what officials describe as ‘intrusive’ questions on visa application forms for Russians.

Canada released a new non-immigration visa application requiring Russian applicants to give details concerning their military service including police or civil defence units and to provide information on the unit where they served and its location. Such information is considered a state secret in Russia and its disclosure may be seen as a criminal offense carrying a four-year prison term.

The new form also requires information as to which political party the applicant belongs. Russia maintains that such questions are too intrusive and violate people’s civil rights.

Russia and Canada have had several disputes over visa issues in the past.

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