Migration and Mobility in Russia and the CIS

The states in the territory of the former Soviet Union — some whose economies are fragile or underperforming as a result of the 2007 crisis, and some that are politically and socially unstable (such as Ukraine and Moldova) or economically and socially stagnant (such as Russia) — experienced a considerable outflow of migrants in 2019.

At least 313,000 Russians left Russia in 2018. Generally, high-skilled people in the 25–34 age group are leaving Russia, with mostly low-skilled people arriving from countries nearby. Apart from depopulation, there is a concern that this trend is causing a shortage of skilled workers in the former CIS.

Russia remains a major receiving country for labor migrants, and a desire to regularize the inflow has led to Russian authorities’ repeated invitations to the CIS states to harmonize their migration laws. Internally, in the Far East, Kaliningrad, and St Petersburg regions, Russia is testing a simplified electronic visa system for nationals of selected countries. If successful, the process will be applied nationwide on 1 January 2021.

In 2020, it seems likely that the CIS countries will continue to lose workers to higher-income countries, with Russia being either their final destination or a stop-off on the way to the EU.

Demoscope Weekly. 2019. No. 831–832, October 21 – November 3.
UN News (Noticias ONU). 2019. ‘La cifra de migrantes internacionales crece más rápido que la población mundial’. September 17.

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