Want to come to work as a Native speaking English teacher in the Russian Federation? Getting a visa, temporary residence visas, and work permits here in Russia is not easy if you choose to do it on your own. It is a long, drawn out process that discourages a lot of people and many end up giving up and leaving. It is better to come here on the invitation of a school or other business and let them handle it all. The following is only my experience of dealing with Russia’s visa process. You have to remember that your experience may be different, especially since the terrorist attacks over the last few weeks. For me, my experiences here have been pretty good but also aggravating. Coming here to live and work in Russia is a decision I will never regret and hopefully will pay off for me in other ways later on in life.
If you choose to come to Russia to work as a TESL/TEFL teacher, you should prepare for going through the process, but if you stick it out, it will be a choice you will never regret.
The number one aggravation and one that will concern every non-citizen of Russia who wishes to come here to work will be the invitation, visa, registration and work permit process. There are so many people you have to deal with in the process, at each office you have to deal with different officials, what is acceptable with one official one day is unacceptable with another official the next day.
For example, I had to provide a letter from my bank stating that I had sufficient funds to live on until my temporary residence was approved, no problem, I got a letter in Russian from my bank here in Moscow. Everything was in Russian, except my name, it was in English. No problem, the first official accepted it. But I had to go back the next day and a different official would not accept it, I had to get another letter with everything in Russian, even my name.
You will find that you will have to go through a lot of rules and deal with a lot of government officials. Do not get me wrong, an individual can deal with this aggravation, but it takes time and patience. That is why I said in my last article that it is always better to let your employer handle all the paperwork and handle all the government paper work. They have attorneys to handle these things, so let them.
I did it on my own myself so it can be done yourself, but only if you’re willing to put up and deal with a lot of aggravation, time and worry that goes along with dealing with governmental officials, it’s the same in the US. Lots of people if not most just give up and go back home instead of dealing with the different governmental bureaucrats. REMEMBER THAT THE FOLLOWING IS ONLY A GUIDE FOR THOSE WISHING TO STAY AND WORK IN RUSSIA FOR AT LEAST A YEAR. THE VISA LAWS CHANGE. WHAT WORKED FOR ME MAY NO LONGER BE IN EFFECT. ESPECIALLY SINCE TERRORISTS ATTACKED THE SCHOOL IN THE SOUTH OF RUSSIA AT THE BEGINNING OF SEPT!
You should also be aware that temporary resident visas are very hard to get, close to being impossible. For those wishing to live and work here in Russia, they generally have to apply for a business visa good for one year, then leave and reapply and come back every year. It is easier than getting a temporary residence visas and would be the best choice for the majority of Americans wishing to come here and work. To come and work in Russia for a year, then leave, maybe go home for a short while, redo the process again and come back all at the school’s expense. There are exceptions to this, for example a businessman wishing to make a large investment and start a business will be given temporary resident visa automatically
Or if your married to a Russian you also can get both temporary and permanent residence. I know that a lot of people who own and run a lot of these English schools are foreigners and as far as I know, they have residence here in Russia, some are from England, Canada, Australia, and one I met was even from French Algeria. I know that there are schools here that are named American Language and so on, but whether or not they are really US businessmen who own these schools I can not really say. The government operates the same here as it does in every other country, no different than how the government operates in the US. Most people should know what I am talking about. But for the average person wishing to stay and work awhile in another country, I do not think residence of any kind would be an issue at all. You can get a legal job with a school or company and stay in Russia for a year legally, before you have to leave, then if the school likes you, they can reapply for you another visa and work permit, so that is really no big deal.
I know of many teachers who have been working here for many years, one teacher I know of has been working at a school for five years, another I know worked at a school for three years and now work at another school. So I know that a lot of teachers are doing just the same as I did. I plan on working here a couple of years then either going back to the US or to another country to teach.
That is the easiest way to go about coming here to Russia to live and work and the way that the majority of teachers from the US coming to Russia do it. I would recommend that you do it that way, because it not only is easy, but also a lot less trouble and saves you time, aggravation, and expense. You will most likely have to sign a contract good for three months during summer on up to a year for full time teaching and that could limit your options and freedom somewhat. You just have to negotiate a contract that suites you and meets you expectations. Some schools offer good contracts that only require that you do not accept any of the school’s students as clients on your own, other schools offer very bad contracts that limit what a teacher can and can not do. No contact outside of class with students, no outside work allowed by the teacher, you can not turn down classes at bad hours, no help with travel, few or no benefits, low pay and no help with rent or living accommodations. By law, a contract must be in both Russian and English to be enforceable in a Russian court.
Excerpted from "How To Prepare For Living And Working In Russia" in Escape From America Magazine, Issue 62.