Many Russians have taken the opportunity to live and work abroad. Have you considered it, but weren't sure how to start? There are still lots of options available to Russian nationals, including remote work or Digital Nomad visas.
In this article we will provide some helpful tips and advice if you're thinking about moving out of Russia, but need help finding the right country, visa or a remote job.
ARTEM'S EXPERIENCE MOVING TO SERBIA
Artem Melnikov, a Back-end Principal Engineer at Trilogy, found his full-time remote software engineering job through Crossover. He recently moved from Russia to Novi-Sad. Artem chose the second largest city Novi-sad over capital and largest city Belgrade as a lot of IT specialists are relocating there. It's also more modern, closer to European cities and he finds the infrastructure is better suited for daily life (for example there are bicycle roads everywhere).
Below Artem gives some insight into what he feels are the pros and cons of living in Serbia, along with advice for those who are looking to move to a different country for a period of time.
- Serbia currently does not require any visa for Russians, only an international passport. Russians can stay for 30 days. Some people even make a "visa run" into a neighbouring country like Montenegro or Bosnia (those countries also do not require a visa) for a moment to refresh the period.
- It is possible to obtain a temporary staying permit (from 6 months to 1 year) by opening a company in Serbia. This can be prolonged later.
- You can apply for an EU visa after obtaining a staying permit.
- The cost of living is quite low compared to other countries.
- Most of the people can speak English.
- Some banks open accounts for non-residents.
- There are direct flights from Moscow / Saint Petersburg.
- No special policies for IT workers or freelancers.
- The taxes for the freelancers are unclear. Can be anything from fixed payment to 40%+ tax, depending on the scheme you use.
- Rental prices are going up and the amount of available places going down (there are a lot of people relocating here). Prices are still not bad though, around 600 euro/month for an ok apartment in Belgrade (capital city), and around 400 euro/month in Novi-Sad.
- There are high taxes for international shipping orders (you will need to pay approximately 30% tax if you order anything from outside the country).
- May be unstable geopolitically because Serbia supports Russia.
Helpful Advice To Russians Who Are Thinking Of Moving
How To Take Money With You
Due to the VISA/Mastercard sanctions and internal laws, it is very hard to move money out of Russia. Russians are only allowed to take up to $USD10,000 cash outside of the country, and are only allowed to take $USD5,000 cash from local bank accounts (and it is even harder because Russian banks are extremely low on USD/EUR cash). The only realistic way is to use either UnionPay (China's card system) or cryptocurrencies. So those considering a move should create a Unionpay card and understand how to use cryptocurrencies before moving out of the country.
How To Book Your Flights
Due to current sanctions, Russians cannot buy flight tickets for international flights. It still is possible by doing it in the main office in Moscow with cash, or ask someone to buy them for you. You could also create a bank account and virtual cards in a different country to use. For example, there are already services that allow you to open a bank account remotely in Kazakhstan. You could consider doing that, however the price is quite high more than 800Euro.
WHAT OTHER OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE TO RUSSIANS?
If you want to move to another country for a longer period of time a great option could be a digital nomad visa or a freelancer visa.
Over thirty countries, including many in Europe, are now offering this digital nomad visa or a similar visa. The Visa allows people to live in the country and really experience it as a local, but they must work remotely for a company outside of the country (for example you could be living in Dubai but working remotely for an American company).
WHAT IS A DIGITAL NOMAD VISA?
A digital nomad visa, or remote working visa, is a permit or visa that will allow you to live and work in a foreign country, and without needing to apply for residency or citizenship. You must be engaged and work for a foreign company, not a business in your host country.
It allows for mostly remote work professionals to stay longer than traditional tourist visas. The normal stay period is around six months to a year, however some can be up to two years. You may also be able to reapply and continue living in the country after your initial Visa period is finished.
WHAT COUNTRY SHOULD YOU APPLY TO?
This is definitely a personal preference! You may prefer to live by the beach in Bermuda or a bustling metropolis like Dubai. It depends on what your overall goal is for the period of your stay in the country. You may wish to learn another language, or simply experience something different. Below are some options for you to consider.
Closest Options to Russia
In case you don’t want to travel too far from home, Georgia or Estonia could be a good option for you (please note you won’t be able to apply for the Estonian visa in Russia - you will have to apply from abroad). Latvia has also just passed laws for their digital nomad visa, which could be a great option that also allows access to the Schengen Area.
As with Artem, you may also wish to move to Serbia which is still close to Russia. Belgrade has just started it's own digital nomad visa called Belgrade Gets Digital, which can also be a great option for a longer-term stay in the country.
Cheapest Application Fee
If you’re worrying about paying an application fee, Georgia and Mauritius both offer digital nomad visas without any application fee (others can cost upwards of $USD3,000 and do not guarantee you will get a visa). Croatia also offers relatively cheap application fees of between €80 to €130.
Fastest Application Process
Some countries require lengthy application processes, or for you to be engaged with a company for a period of time before you apply.
If you’re looking for the quickest application response time to start your Digital Nomad year as quickly as possible, then Barbados is a great option for you. Not only can you live by the beach, enjoying the sun and sand, but applications for the twelve month visa are typically approved within seven days. When you apply, you must prove that you have a minimum annual income of $50,000 and the application fee is $2,000. Barbados will also allow you to apply online, so no embassy visits or interviews.
Lowest Minimum Monthly Income Requirement
Your host country needs to know you will be able to support yourself during your stay, so need a minimum income requirement. Georgia is again a great option, only requiring you to prove you earn a minimum of $USD2,000 a month. In Croatia you must earn a minimum of €2,232 per month or €26,790 for a 12 months stay.
Large Expat Communities
It is important to note some countries have established digital nomad communities, where you can have immediate support from others in the same situation (very important if you are moving by yourself and do not want to feel so isolated). You may also look to live in a country that has a large Russian expat community. Dubai has both a large digital nomad community and a Russian expat community, and is still easily accessible from Russia.
What Digital Nomad Visas Are Available to Russians?
At the time of our research, the majority of countries are still making digital nomad visas available to regular Russian citizens, however many make the point regarding internationally sanctioned Russian citizens. For example, St Lucia has stated they will not discriminate against regular Russian citizens, but will not accept those who may be using their CIP scheme to avoid sanctions.
It may also be difficult to physically apply for many of these digital nomad visas, particularly those countries who require interviews at embassies.
Please note these may be subject to change at any time, with international government sanctions against the Russian Federation. We recommend constantly reviewing websites and individual government requirements prior to application.
Find a list of countries that currently offer digital nomad visas here.
DUBAI VIRTUAL WORKING PROGRAM
Dubai is a popular destination for digital nomads and has a large Russian expat community. It also has a relatively easy application process. There are also still regular flights between Russia and Dubai so you can easily get there and return home if you want to visit. The Visa lasts for exactly twelve months, after which point you may reapply for another year, but you must re-submit all documents and still meet the requirements.
To be eligible, you will need the following:
1. Passport with a minimum of 6 months validity
2. Health insurance with UAE coverage validity
3. For employees: proof of employment from a current employer with a one-year contract validity, a minimum of $USD5,000 per month salary, last month's payslip and 3 preceding months’ bank statements.
4. For business owners: proof of ownership of the company for one year or more, with an average monthly income of $USD5,000 per month and 3 preceding months’ bank statements
Another benefit is that remote workers are not required to pay income tax in Dubai. More information can be found on the Visit Dubai website.
ACCESSING REMOTE WORK THROUGH CROSSOVER
As the majority of digital nomad visas require proof of remote work employment, if you don’t have a remote role yet, landing a remote work job through Crossover could unlock the door to these opportunities.
Since 2014, Crossover has offered remote full-time jobs with American companies that pay in US dollars. This means you can work from anywhere in the world and not be limited by location (how many countries could you live in?!), as well as enjoy pay in a stable currency. You could even be offered a role through Crossover within a week, and start your digital nomad adventure sooner.
LIVING THE EXPERIENCE
Don't just take our word for it. There are over 300 Russian nationals around the world who found their job on Crossover and are currently working with Crossover clients. They’re all enjoying the benefits of working remotely, while earning great pay in US dollars. Explore the remote work opportunities we have available, and let us know if you have taken the next step and moved abroad.