The Interior Ministry of the Russian Federation has reportedly lifted the ban on entry to the country 120,000 Tajik migrants who have committed minor offenses in Russia.

TASS says Aleksey Yegorov, the chief of the Russian Interior Ministry’s representative office in Tajikistan, told reporters in Dushanbe on December 27 that Russian has allowed 120,000 Tajik migrants back in. 

According to him, the ban on entry has been lifted only for those who have committed minor offenses in Russia.   

Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed this information.

“Currently, the issue of provision by the Russian side of a complete list of “amnestied” nationals of Tajikistan is being considered,” the Tajik MFA information department says.  

Recall, the president of the Migrants’ Federation of Russia Vadim Kozhevnikov noted in early October that Russia has lifted reentry ban for 150,000 migrants from Tajikistan.  According to him, the reentry ban has been lifted only for migrants, who were deported from Russia by the interior ministry’ decision.  Kozhevnikov said that names of migrants who were permitted to re-enter the Russian Federation were deleted from the Interior Ministry’s database on August 18

Under a 2017 agreement, a travel ban imposed on around 100,000 Tajik nationals who had been deported from Russia was lifted.

The deportations are typically triggered by violations of migration law.  Exclusion orders can vary between a few months to a decade, depending on the type of offense that triggered deportation.

Prior to the 2017 agreement, around 400,000 Tajik nationals were barred from entering Russia. 

Labor migration to the Russian Federation has become a phenomenon unprecedented in scale and importance to the Tajik economy, on the national as well as household levels, having made invaluable contributions to the country’s development and helping reduce poverty significantly in the country.  On the other hand, labor migration has also created strong dependencies, with whole families relying entirely on income earned abroad by migrant family members. Most of the remittances are spent on household consumption, while income-generating investments are rare. Seasonal labor migration has become and will most likely continue to be the most appealing employment option for Tajik men because of the weak Tajik economy.  Meanwhile, many Tajik migrants stay and work in Russia without proper documentation.  As one measure to control and limit irregular migration, Russian authorities are tightening law enforcement in the sphere of migration, including by widening the grounds for issuing reentry bans to foreign nationals who have repeatedly breached Russian laws and administrative regulations.

Varying in duration from three to five years, these reentry bans have led to a growing category of involuntary returnees who lack economic prospects in their home countries and who wait desperately for their chance to go back to Russia.  

More than two thirds of the migrant workers have reportedly migrated to the Russian Federation due to the lack of jobs and the low salaries in Tajikistan, and therefore, the reentry ban to the Russian Federation has led to a significant deterioration of their and their families’ economic situation.

Tajikistan is one of the world’s most remittance dependent countries and labor migrants are still a critical component in the economy of Tajikistan.  Migrants’ remittances keep many struggling families at home above the poverty line. 

Tajik seasonal workers travel abroad each year, primarily to the Russian Federation but also to neighboring Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

In January-September this year, Russia’s Interior Ministry reportedly registered 2,025,712 Tajik citizens entering the country – 1.6 million of them, or about one-quarter of Tajikistan’s working-age population, with work as their official purpose.

Russia ratified an agreement on the organized recruitment of Tajik labor migrants who work seasonally in Russia on December 28, 2019.  The agreement was signed on April 17, 2019, but was not ratified by Russia until late December.

The agreement provides for the government organized recruitment of Tajik workers for jobs in Russia.

The Tajik government takes on responsibility for marshaling workers for positions requested by Russian employers, selecting candidates with the necessary qualifications and providing training, including Russian language training, and facilitating return of workers to Tajikistan.

Under this agreement, employers must actively participate in an organized recruitment of labor migrants, provide migrants with safe conditions of work and ensure regular payment of wages,