Russia says it is looking to simplify entry requirements for migrant workers, to aid industries like construction and agriculture that are facing labor shortages due to the pandemic.

Business daily RBC reported on February 10 that the agriculture ministry filed a request to allow migrants to enter Russia for seasonal agricultural work in 2021, with farmers worried about a lack of skilled local labor.

In a statement quoted by TASS state news agency, the ministry said it was planning to release 184 million rubles (equivalent to US$2.5 million) to help farmers meet the costs of additional recruitment.

These subsidies are intended in particular to finance hiring and housing of local agriculture students, who would be available to work in the summer.

According to data from the Russian Interior Ministry, close to half of all migrants, mostly from Central Asia’s, living in Russia before the pandemic had left the country.