Russia and the US are two of the largest, if not the two largest, magnets for immigrants in the world today, and they share a number of common issues in their approaches to immigration policy. Both countries are facing questions as to whether their native-born populations are growing fast enough to sustain economic growth, and both are also dealing with a major illegal immigration problem.

As a result, in both countries there have been proposals which could result in mass incarceration or deportation of unauthorized immigrants, as discussed in my December 14 Immigration Daily post.

At the same time, both countries have been making efforts to attract needed skilled and professional immigrants, not only from Europe, which was the once the major source of immigrants for both countries, but from more diverse parts of the world.

In the US, as is well known, there are presently a number of visa programs aimed at attracting highly educated skilled. professional and entrepreneurial workers, such as H-1B, L-1, E-1, E-2 and O-1 temporary employment visas, and Labor Certification, Extraordinary Ability,International Transferee and National Interest Waiver green cards (not to leave out EB-5, of course)!

For the past half century, ever since the 1965 immigration reform law replaced the "Nordics" only "national origin" immigration quotas of the 1924 Johnson-Reed Immigration Act, immigration to the US has been, at least in theory, open to immigrants from all over the world, without discrimination as to race, color or religion.

There can be no doubt that this landmark law, arguably the most important single immigration statute in America's entire history, has made a major change in the face - and demographics of the US over the past fifty years. For one of the best and most comprehensive available discussions of the background of this transformative law, see:

Migration Information Source:

The Geopolitical Origins of the U.S. Immigration Act of 1965.

While Russia has become a magnet for large scale immigration much more recently than the US, beginning in the 1990's after the fall of the Soviet Union, that country is also in the midst of making attempts to widen its appeal to skilled and professional immigrants from outside Europe, especially from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

The most comprehensive study of the measures that Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, has been taking to open up its immigration system to skilled and professional workers from outside Europe, is available from an independent, Paris and Brussels-based research organization known as ifri- Russia/NIS Center ("ifri").

In January, 2016, ifri published a report by a Russian scholar, Lyubov Bisson (see her biography in the introduction to the report) entitled:

Russia's Immigration Policy: New Challenges and Tools

This report should be required reading for anyone interested in topic of immigration in Russia today. Unfortunately, I do not have a direct link. However, this article can easily be found on Google by typing in the above title.

The following are some highlights of the report as they relate to skilled and professional immigration policy in Russia today.

Bisson writes about the new Russian "Blue Card's" effect in increasing the number of skilled workers in the country as follows:

"The trend in the number of highly qualified workers attracted to work in Russia shows progressive improvement: in 2013, more than 20,000 work permits were granted to them, twice as many as in the previous year. If combined with permits for qualified specialists, the number is even higher. The term 'qualified'specialist' covers workers in more than sixty different professions: artists, directors and people employed in theater, cinema annd television: various types of engineers, including those in aviation, programmers, [newspaper] correspondents, as well as company directors. The list is updated annually by the Ministry of Labour. 55,484 work permits were handed out to highly qualified and qualified foreign specialists in 2012..."

The parallels with the H-1B definition of "specialty occupation" as well with other US visa categories such as O-1, L-1, E and I visas are clear.

But not every observer of Russian immigration policy is happy about the influx of skilled foreign workers, any more than every person or group seeking to influence America's immigration system is happy with this country's openness (such as it is) to skilled foreign workers from every part of the world.

And at least in some quarters with respect to both countries, the reason for this opposition is not due to any lack of qualifications on the part of the skilled foreign workers involved, but because of their ethnicity or non-European national origins.

To be continued in Part 2.

In the meantime, in the Christmas - and the American - spirit of good will to all people, regardless of race, color or religion, I wish all readers a very Happy Holiday.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law