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The Russian government has announced a bill that seeks to make it easier for international graduates from the country’s universities to obtain citizenship, with changes coming in as early as December 2020. However, only graduates of public, or “state”, educational or scientific institutions will be eligible.

Under the proposed amendments to the Russian Citizenship Law and the Foreign Nationals’ Legal Status Law, graduates would no longer require residence permits meaning they would avoid “complicated procedures” associated with applying for Russian citizenship.

Currently, graduates of Russian institutions can stay in the country after studying as temporary residents, and after working for three years, they can apply for a permanent residence permit.

The government wants to overhaul the procedure by dropping the three-year residency requirement, meaning international students will be entitled to apply for citizenship as soon as they have been awarded a degree from a public or state university.

In 2017 the government announced it would simplify visas for international students in a bid to increase numbers of students opting to choose Russia as a study destination. It also said it would invest US$83.5m in driving numbers up to 710,000 by 2025.

The move will “support Russia’s effort to attract global student talent while providing its companies with employable graduates equipped with sought-after skills”, Alexander Bedny, vice rector for International Affairs at Lobachevsky University said.