Russia’s Embrace Of Traditional Values-Espousing Immigrants Won’t Be As Simple As Some Think

Unlike the West, Russia isn’t interested in “replacement migration” for purely economic reasons. It wants new arrivals to assimilate and integrate into society, make ends meet on their own, and ideally embrace their host society’s values.

RT and Sputnik reported that President Putin agreed with an Italian student’s proposal last week to streamline the naturalization process for immigrants who espouse traditional values, which are shared by many Westerners, though he cautioned that there’s no way to test for these beliefs. Nevertheless, a lot of “Non-Russian Pro-Russians” (NRPRs) were encouraged by his words and imagined that they might soon be able to make their dream of moving there come true, but it’s not as simple as they think.

Although Russia is courting highly qualified workers from abroad and needs to replace its naturally declining population through a more liberalized migration system, even for low-qualified workers, these people’s personal beliefs aren’t as important as their ability to assimilate and integrate into society. Working knowledge of Russian is required, as is knowledge of the country’s laws and history, in order to obtain residency as the usual steppingstone that most take before eventually applying for citizenship.

Some basic questions about traditional values could therefore be easily added to these exams such as asking applicants to define marriage and to list the number of genders, but agreement with these beliefs – whether sincere or faked – will never realistically be the primary criteria for letting one move there. Immigrants must be able to play a positive role in society and economically support themselves, and only those who are able to can then receive citizenship regardless of whether they’re liberal or conservative.

The migration system is still very complex to navigate even for those who already meet these criteria, however, and usually requires a specialized lawyer such as the ones from VISTA Immigration in order for residency or citizenship applications to be successful. That’s because this branch of the government largely retains its byzantine Soviet-era bureaucratic traditions that haven’t improved much over the past three decades despite the state’s well-intentioned efforts at reform in recent years.

putin-on-migrationThe most common way for someone to permanently relocate to Russia nowadays is to first come there as a student or worker, but simplified avenues are available for those who complete military service or have immediate family in the country, among other categories that NRPRs can learn more about from the abovementioned link. The point in sharing these details is to temper these people’s expectations so that they’re not disappointed once they find out how difficult it still is to move to Russia.

A proverbial mountain of paperwork is required for most applicants, and interacting with clerks inside the country can oftentimes be a stressful experience, especially if someone doesn’t speak Russian fluently. This process isn’t for anyone with limited patience, but only for those with the grit to persevere. It’s well worth it, especially for people who espouse traditional values, but navigating this complex system will likely never be anywhere as simple as it is in the West.

There’s also the challenge of making a living in Russia, where costs widely vary depending on the location. Without speaking fluent Russian or working as a teacher of whatever one’s native language may be, it’s extremely difficult to find employment. That’s not because the economy is doing poorly, but because few people speak a foreign language, so they naturally won’t hire anyone who doesn’t speak Russian like they do. Exceptions exist, like everywhere, but nobody should take them for granted.

Someone can of course be self-employed, and it might be easier for them to do an online job of some sort for comparatively measly pay by Western standards while living in a small town or rural area where costs are pretty low, but those who want the city live will probably struggle to make ends meet. A NRPR can be the most gung-ho about traditional values and behave “more Russian than the Russians themselves” but still never be able to move there unless they meet the previously mentioned criteria.

That’s why it’s so important for those who are interested in this life choice to begin learning Russian right away, which they can start doing remotely or with private lessons if they’re available wherever they currently live, not to mention taking classes at a local university if that’s also an option. The next step for many could be applying to a Russian university as a full-time student, where they can also learn Russian alongside whatever their regular studies may be, after which they can apply for temporary residency.

That could help folks get a head start on everything, but this pathway is mostly relevant for younger ones in the mid-20s or perhaps early 30s, being much more difficult for someone who’s already planted roots in the West or wherever they come from. In those cases, military service or entrepreneurship might be a more realistic option if they don’t meet the criteria of a highly specialized worker, the category of which is eligible for simplified citizenship processes.

Unlike the West, Russia isn’t interested in “replacement migration” for purely economic reasons. It wants new arrivals to assimilate and integrate into society, make ends meet on their own, and ideally embrace their host society’s values. The last-mentioned is preferred but not a prerequisite since it can never be tested for in any foolproof way. Those who espouse these beliefs and appreciate Russia’s defense of them therefore shouldn’t get their hopes up for simplified migration procedures on that criterion alone.

Source: the author’s blog

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply