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Moscow will need 300,000 foreign workers in 2008

The Moscow economy will need a total of 300,000 foreign workers in 2008, mainly in the construction, retail and transport sectors, a spokesman for the city administration said on Friday.

“In 2008 Moscow will need 50,000 workers from countries with a visa regime and 250,000 people from countries with a visa-free regime,” the spokesman said. A total of 120,000 migrants will be required in the construction industry, 60,000 in retail and 13,000 in the transport sector, the spokesman added. Nearly 1 million foreign workers were officially registered in Moscow in 2007 with a total population of 10.4 million. Some 470,000 migrants received work permits in Moscow, while only 126,000 people officially worked, the capital’s Mayor Yury Luzhkov said.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia, particularly Moscow, saw a strong inflow of migrant workers. Many of them stayed in the country illegally because official registration processes were too complicated and time-consuming. According to the Federal Migration Service (FMS), over 20 million people travel to Russia every year, and at least half of them attempt to remain in the country illegally.

In January 2007, Russia toughened its migration policy, reducing the number of migrants allowed to work in retail markets to 40% of the total workforce. Since April 1, foreigners have been banned from working in markets and other retail outlets entirely. The move designed to bring order to the sector and curb a wave of ethnically motivated crimes in the country. Some one and a half million civil cases were filed for violations of migration laws in 2005, and approximately 57,000 illegal immigrants were deported. (