Russia eyes amnesty for illegal immigrants

May 3, 2012 at 1:26 PM

MOSCOW, May 3 (UPI) -- Up to 5 million illegal immigrants in Russia could become Russian citizens under a migration amnesty law, officials said.

The Migration of the 21st Century Foundation, which helps the government develop policies on immigration, is drafting the amnesty law and said it would be presented to the government within six months, The Moscow Times reported.

In late April, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called illegal immigration one of the nation's biggest problems, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported Thursday.

The Federal Migration Service has estimated Russia has about 5 million illegal immigrants. But experts, who factor in the number of money transfers abroad, believe there could be 10 million illegal immigrants in the country.

The Times said the immigration reform could allow immigrants with expired work permits but no other violations to surrender to authorities and obtain legal immigrant status.

Natalya Vlasovoi, vice president of the Migration of the 21st Century Foundation, said Russia has had more than 25 amnesty programs for illegal immigrants but on a smaller scale.

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