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Larry Paradine
25-04-2008, 12:07
Two weeks ago I had to sign a document in the Kazan office of OVIR, explaining why I hadn't been at the address where I'm registered when a spot check was carried out. With me at the time were the two Directors of Oxford Crown, Kazan, the company that I'm registered as working for. They had also been questioned about supposed irregularities in their documents, but left on an upbeat note, convinced that the matter was closed. i wasn't so sure because when i asked the чиновники if that was all, the laconic reply was "Пока!" Now Oxford Crown, Kazan, has been fined a million roubles (250,000 roubles for each of the four foreign teachers they employ) and told they have no right to obtain work and residence permits for foreign teachers. I'm told that the University has also been socked for swingeing fines in respect of a number of foreign lecturers and teachers (presumably in subjects other than English). There will be appeals in the courts soon, but in the meantime I advise anyone thinking of working as a teacher in Kazan to tread carefully. Moreover, this may be the start of a national crackdown, not just a local sweep. All republics supplement and often duplicate federal bureaucracy (Tatarstan and Bashkortostan more than most, for reasons not entirely unconnected with religion and historic ethnic grudges) but it appears that the Kazan purge began with the arrival of a punitive squad from the Moscow миграционная служба, which suggests that expats in the Great Wen on the Moskva may be in for a cull. I don't want to be alarmist, but it's significant that Oxford Crown in Kazan obtained work and residence registration from OVIR in Kazan last year and, till now, nobody in official circles questioned their authenticity. My advice to teachers (and possibly expats in other fields) would be to double check your documents, preferably with the help of someone au fait with the system (and, if any of you are going to tomorrow night's all night пасхальная служба, to light a candle and say a quick prayer.)

Carbo
25-04-2008, 14:30
Two weeks ago I had to sign a document in the Kazan office of OVIR, explaining why I hadn't been at the address where I'm registered when a spot check was carried out. With me at the time were the two Directors of Oxford Crown, Kazan, the company that I'm registered as working for. They had also been questioned about supposed irregularities in their documents, but left on an upbeat note, convinced that the matter was closed. i wasn't so sure because when i asked the чиновники if that was all, the laconic reply was "Пока!" Now Oxford Crown, Kazan, has been fined a million roubles (250,000 roubles for each of the four foreign teachers they employ) and told they have no right to obtain work and residence permits for foreign teachers. I'm told that the University has also been socked for swingeing fines in respect of a number of foreign lecturers and teachers (presumably in subjects other than English). There will be appeals in the courts soon, but in the meantime I advise anyone thinking of working as a teacher in Kazan to tread carefully. Moreover, this may be the start of a national crackdown, not just a local sweep. All republics supplement and often duplicate federal bureaucracy (Tatarstan and Bashkortostan more than most, for reasons not entirely unconnected with religion and historic ethnic grudges) but it appears that the Kazan purge began with the arrival of a punitive squad from the Moscow миграционная служба, which suggests that expats in the Great Wen on the Moskva may be in for a cull. I don't want to be alarmist, but it's significant that Oxford Crown in Kazan obtained work and residence registration from OVIR in Kazan last year and, till now, nobody in official circles questioned their authenticity. My advice to teachers (and possibly expats in other fields) would be to double check your documents, preferably with the help of someone au fait with the system (and, if any of you are going to tomorrow night's all night пасхальная служба, to light a candle and say a quick prayer.)
I don't want to sound alarmist, but I currently have a language exchange with an Oxford Crown employee and she said that the company was facing serious financial difficulties. I wondered why, but this post offers an explantion.

I don't want to sound alarmist, Part II...

...one Saturday when we had our regular Russian/English lesson, she said she had work to do and wanted to meet at the Oxford Crown offices in Moscow. While there, I noticed British Coucil stuff all over the place. Was Oxford Crown the company who the BC sub-contracted language learning services to? Are they somehow involved in this whole British Council debacle? Could that be a reason for the 'random check'? Or am I just being conspiritorial and alarmist?

Larry Paradine
26-04-2008, 09:55
Oxford Crown operates on the same franchise system as the big three. I can't give you any info about the Moscow school (though you'll find some unfavourable reports in the eslcafe forum) but the Kazan school is run by two very kindhearted and charming ladies who, alas, couldn't organise a boozeup in a brewery.

Carbo
26-04-2008, 13:00
Oxford Crown operates on the same franchise system as the big three. I can't give you any info about the Moscow school (though you'll find some unfavourable reports in the eslcafe forum) but the Kazan school is run by two very kindhearted and charming ladies who, alas, couldn't organise a boozeup in a brewery.
Yes, poor organization would provide a far more plausible explination than my conspiracies.

Jabuticaba
28-04-2008, 02:03
Hi Larry, and thanks for your pretty accurate description of what's going on in Kazan.

Since this happened, I've been reading the forums, trying to see how this 'purge' is related to the new restrictions to Business visas that came into force in October, which I dimly remember hearing about at the time, but had been blissfully unconcerned about until now.

I have a visa which is valid until next October and I plan on applying for temporary residence before then. (I'm British and married to a Russian, and our daughter was born in December, another reason to be distracted).

You’ve titled this thread ‘work visa crackdown?’ which I think is a little confusing, because we don’t have work visas as I understand it.

The visas we have (and I assume you have the same kind as the rest of us) have always been described to me as ‘teachers’ visas’. On close examination, the visa states the purpose of the visit as ‘teacher’. At the top it says ‘Ordinary Visa’ (Obyknovennaya) just to add to the confusion. At any rate, it doesn’t say ‘work visa’, or ‘business visa’, which is a positive note given what I’ve read in this forum.

I have read nothing about teacher’ visas on the forums. For all I know officially this may be a subclass of work visa. If anyone knows anything about how the new law applies to them, I’d be very grateful if they could share their info.

Yes, Oxford Crown Kazan is being fined MIMIMUN a million roubles for employing foreign teachers without work permits. The maximum fine per teacher is 800,000 roubles.

The school is appealing these ludicrous fines, which would put them out of business.

Other schools in town have also been fined similar sums for employing foreigners without work permits on these same teachers’ visas (maybe teachers’ visas are a peculiarity of Tatarstan).

There are a number of private ‘Turkish’ schools in Kazan, aimed at well off Tatars. Teaching of all subjects is mostly in English, and a fair number of the staff are Turks and other foreigners. The Republican Tatar government is very keen to develop ties with Turkey. It seems that schools like this were targeted first, then us.

Apparently, previously holders of teacher’ visas were exempt from having to get work permits. Only teachers at religious schools staffed by foreign missionaries had to get them.

At least, this is what OVIR had previously told Oxford Crown. (It’s not called ‘OVIR’ anymore, but something completely unpronounceable, even for Russians).

Not being a legal expert, I’ve got no idea what laws may be in the books which have not been enforced up to now. I’d always thought having a teachers’ visa gave me the right to work as a teacher.

The school was told last week that it would be impossible to get any work permits until next year as the annual quota of two (!!!) have both been allotted.

Now they’ve been told that the Kazan immigration service has made a request to Moscow for the quota for this year to be enlarged.

I now understand that I have to apply for temp residence as soon as possible. If OC loses the court case, they may want to expel us otherwise.

-If I apply for TR, do I have the right to stay in the country until a decision has been made, even if my visa expires?

Is anyone else in a similar situation, does anyone have any advice?

Jabuticaba
28-04-2008, 02:06
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Larry Paradine
28-04-2008, 09:38
Thank you Jabuticaba. I've just dashed off a quick e-mail to Raya at OC asking for more info. Yes, you're quite right, "work visa" is a misnomer when applied to teachers, my visa is also a visa for преподователь, but my reason for so titling the thread was, and still is, that I've heard rumours and (so far) unsubstantiated stories about a general crackdown on all expats, which was another reason for posting in this forum (most expats in Moscow and Piter seem to be non or only part time teachers.)

bobs12
28-04-2008, 11:43
Hi folks,

Let's try not to get in a big tizzy yet :)

Teachers, yes, are expempted from work permits. However, having a visa with преподаватель written on it doesn't make you a teacher. There is some hazy definition, but as I understand, to work legally in the Mother Ship on a teacher's visa with no work permit, then you should have qualifications that allow you to teach in your home country. The exact назначения of different visas and what you can do with them is a bit fuzzy and I am no expert on that.

As for registration and addresses - well, you're not obliged to be there all the time (you're allowed to nip out for fresh air, I suppose ;)) but you should be able to satisfy the Gestapo that you more or less live where you say you do. A pair of shoes and some dirty underwear at the address where you are registered is a good start. Just remember to 'renew' the dirty underwear occasionally to keep it smelling 'fresh' :10600:

Anyone working on a business visa right now needs to keep their heads down, go to the schools they are 'working' for and demand that any copies of documents identifying them (those stupid, stupid schools that insist on photocopying your passports...) be handed over or destroyed. Get your name removed from any accounting documents or changed, don't have any contracts with your name on.

Work visas, done by the book with the foreign chappie employed legally (all taxes paid, etc. etc.) should be perfectly safe as long as the employing companiy doesn't get itself into trouble.

Of course, in Russia the scenario in the last paragraph is as likely to happen as a sudden change to Remocracy :mooooh:

Basically: if you're breaking the law, assume that your number's coming up. That's the safest. If you want to stay in Russia and continue to break the law - your call. If you want to stay in Russia and not break the law - try to find a 'white' employer (nothing racist, just referring to the monochrome business world, black employers are also good if their companies are white) and get off your business visa asap.

Business visas were never meant for living here. We've all enjoyed years of almost unbelievable laxity towards our abuse of the visa regime in the largest country in the world, not to mention our complete disregard for taxation and other laws. Maybe the country is finally pulling itself into line with most of the rest of the world and stopping people from doing things they shouldn't be doing. Of course, everyone complains about the lawlessness in Russia, except when it suits them ;)

Jabuticaba
29-04-2008, 02:59
Hi Bobs12, sorry for not using your site for this discussion, this is just where I found Larry's post.

Could anyone tell me more about work visas and work permits in Moscow and Petersburg? I've probably missed some important developments out here in the provinces. Are these standard for the larger schools? If so, how long has this arrangement been common? Was there a similar 'crack down' on schools which employ people with out work permits before this came about?

Also, do you also have people with teachers' visas in the big cities? Have any schools been fined for employing them?

I think many of us would agree that it's hard to know when you are breaking the law in this country, as there are so any grey areas related to the status of foreigners.

Larry Paradine
03-05-2008, 23:16
Hallo again Jabuticaba. I've just re=read your post and realised i haven't answered your question about "teacher visas". They're not peculiar to, or restricted to, Tatarstan, they're the standard visas for foreign teachers in Russia (including foreign lecturers at universities, whether specialising in algebra or zoology): for that reason, the result of the Kazan case could send seismic waves through every educational institute in russia that employs foreigners in a teaching capacity.

Larry Paradine
07-05-2008, 09:43
The latest information i have is that the court hearing in Kazan has been adjourned till later this month. A breathing space, but I wouldn't advise anyone to feel too complacent. Even if the court lets the school and university off the fine, the real issue is whether work permits will be obligatory in future and, if the court so decides, a lot of hard luck stories will soon be hitting this forum. I'll keep updating as I get more info, but if anyone out there hears anything, please post asap.

Penguin_The_Great
15-05-2008, 06:29
I've heard rumours and (so far) unsubstantiated stories about a general crackdown on all expats,

Do you think such rumors are likely to be true? We are in the US now (I’m Russian, my husband is American) but plan to move to Russia. I don’t want to go through all the trouble of moving just to be kicked out a couple of months later for one reason or another.
Why would they want to crack down on expats anyway? There has to be some kind of reason to justify the trouble of going after people like this.

MissAnnElk
15-05-2008, 07:55
Do you think such rumors are likely to be true? We are in the US now (I’m Russian, my husband is American) but plan to move to Russia. I don’t want to go through all the trouble of moving just to be kicked out a couple of months later for one reason or another.
Why would they want to crack down on expats anyway? There has to be some kind of reason to justify the trouble of going after people like this.

I thought it was related to the British Counsel issues? Just speculating . . .

Larry Paradine
15-05-2008, 11:20
The rumours about a general crackdown on all work visas are just rumours; I have no proof and nor, to the best of my knowledge, has anyone else outside the circle of decision makers in the Russian ministries concerned, but you know the old saw about there being no smoke without fire.

On the specific topic of whether holders of "teacher" visas need work permits: the Kazan court's decision is expected on Monday 19th May. I'll post the result as soon as I know it, probably on Monday evening. Meanwhile, I think I should retitle this thread "Teacher visa crackdown?" to ensure that we don't stray too far from the point at issue.

P.S. Apparently there's no facility for editing thread titles, only posts, so this thread remains about work visas generally but, for the time being, let's focus on the teacher work permit exemption issue.

xSnoofovich
15-05-2008, 12:02
Why would they want to crack down on expats anyway?

because this is Russia? do you read the moscow times? there was an article there today about a crackdown on BP workers.

Guest
15-05-2008, 12:45
The rumours about a general crackdown on all work visas are just rumours;


Yes and no, all depends of what you mean by "crackdown". The government is studying to find a new kind of visa, as the business visa is used as it was not supposed to be used. Visitors use it to live a year in Russia (now half a year in 2 periods of 90 days) for things that have NO relation at all with "business"; other work with such visa that doesn't give this right, etc etc.

Probably this year, the business "multiple entry" visa will be drastically changed and it won't be anymore possible to do with it like it is until today.

Also the 90/180 days period will be clarified: It will not depend of the kind of visa. Currently it is an omission in the law, it officially concerns only the multiple entry business visa. People can use tourist visas every 3 months and stay 365 days a year in Russia like this (minus the visa renewal trips). That was of course not predicted by the lawmakers (!), and a new decree should clarify this: VISAS (any kind mixed) will allow a maximum of 90 days on 180 days in Russia. If people need more, there are the WORK permits and the RESIDENCE permits.

Larry Paradine
21-05-2008, 08:57
Just a very brief update, to inform anyone interested that the court hearing in Kazan (on the issue of whether or not holders of "teacher" visas are exempted from the general requirement to obtain work permits) has been postponed till 4 June.

Monti Cristo
18-09-2008, 16:09
Is this the same company as the Oxford Crown School in Moscow?

Does anyone have an opinion about this company?

MC


I don't want to sound alarmist, but I currently have a language exchange with an Oxford Crown employee and she said that the company was facing serious financial difficulties. I wondered why, but this post offers an explantion.

I don't want to sound alarmist, Part II...

...one Saturday when we had our regular Russian/English lesson, she said she had work to do and wanted to meet at the Oxford Crown offices in Moscow. While there, I noticed British Coucil stuff all over the place. Was Oxford Crown the company who the BC sub-contracted language learning services to? Are they somehow involved in this whole British Council debacle? Could that be a reason for the 'random check'? Or am I just being conspiritorial and alarmist?

Larry Paradine
01-10-2008, 21:43
As far as I know (but I'm not sure), the Kazan Oxford Crown school is a franchise and the two lady directors (who, as I hope I made clear before, are honest and well meaning, merely lacking in business acumen) have nothing to do with the Moscow OC's reported transgressions. I apologise for not updating my last post but I've lost contact both with the OC school and with other teachers in Kazan, and don't know the result of the court case. Schools generally appear to be adopting a business as usual attitude, presumably hoping that the Kazan raids were just a little local Tatar difficulty. If anyone has definite information, please let us all know.

andrich
02-10-2008, 21:25
Yes and no, all depends of what you mean by "crackdown". The government is studying to find a new kind of visa, as the business visa is used as it was not supposed to be used. Visitors use it to live a year in Russia (now half a year in 2 periods of 90 days) for things that have NO relation at all with "business"; other work with such visa that doesn't give this right, etc etc.

Probably this year, the business "multiple entry" visa will be drastically changed and it won't be anymore possible to do with it like it is until today.

Also the 90/180 days period will be clarified: It will not depend of the kind of visa. Currently it is an omission in the law, it officially concerns only the multiple entry business visa. People can use tourist visas every 3 months and stay 365 days a year in Russia like this (minus the visa renewal trips). That was of course not predicted by the lawmakers (!), and a new decree should clarify this: VISAS (any kind mixed) will allow a maximum of 90 days on 180 days in Russia. If people need more, there are the WORK permits and the RESIDENCE permits.

Is this still the case? Is the general consensus that I can leave after a 3 month business visa and come right back in on another 3 monther?