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Russian citizenship: a “general” procedure

The main condition for acquiring Russian citizenship in a general procedure (when a foreign national has no grounds for a simplified citizenship application) is:

  • The applicant must hold a permanent residence permit
  • The applicant has lived in Russian as a permanent resident for five (5) years without interruption. The length of residence in Russia is considered to be uninterrupted only if the foreign national has spent no more than three (3) months outside of Russia in any one year (for every year before the application date)

In addition, a foreign national applying for Russian citizenship in a general procedure must submit documented proof of: 

  • Command of the Russian language (a certificate or a high school diploma)
  • Income (a 2-NDFL form issued by the employer is usually used, or a bank statement about the applicant’s account balance(s))
  • Application to renounce the current citizenship

Please note that very few applicants use this path towards Russian citizenship and apply according to the general procedure. There are at least two reasons for this:

  • First, a permanent residence permit can be extended an unlimited number of times, giving its holder essentially the same rights as Russian citizens enjoy. Therefore, after living in Russia for five years as permanent residents, many foreign nationals ask themselves if it is worth it, if it makes any sense for them to apply for Russian citizenship, or simply extend their permanent resident’s status for another five years and keep their current citizenship… (many choose to extend their permanent  residence permit)
  • Second, the application processing time is one year, and the decision to grant Russian citizenship is signed by the Russian President. The processing time and the level of decision-making mean that a perfect application package is required. In other words, to obtain Russian citizenship in a general procedure, you must have a perfect, well-documented history of living in Russia for the entire time from becoming a permanent resident to submitting your citizenship application

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