Visiting Russia with Your Adopted Russian Child

Visiting Russia with Your Adopted Russian Child

Families have in recent years expressed interest to International Family Services in taking their now older adopted Russian children to back Russia for a visit to their orphanage, city or extended biological family. While this visit can have positive benefits for these children, adoptive parents should factor into their planning the realities of their children’s Russian citizenship.

•    In effect, Russian children adopted American parents hold dual citizenship in both the US and Russia.
•    Russian children adopted and living in the US as American citizens are still considered by Russians to be Russian citizens only.
•    When these Russian-born children travel to Russia, they must do so on a valid (non-expired) Russian passport rather than in their US passport with a Russian visa.
•    While in Russia, these children are treated as Russians, limiting US Consulate support should the child get into trouble while in Russia.
•    Additionally, adopted males 18 – 27 years of age will be subject to the Russian conscription laws, eligible to be drafted into the Russian military.

For more information, see the sources below.

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From Russian Behind the Scenes

“According to the law on citizenship, a citizen of Russia is considered a citizen of Russia no matter whether he has another citizenship or not.” [ Dmitry Gudkov, Duma deputy and initiator of the amendment of the Dima Yakovlev Law banning the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens]
. . . .
According to Russia’s federal law “On citizenship,” every Russian citizen with dual citizenship is treated by the Russian Federation and its authorities as a citizen of Russia only. [Emphasis added]
(Source: Russia Behind the Headlines, “Ban on US Citizens Adopting Russian Children May be Amended,” http://rbth.com/news/2015/02/12/ban_on_us_citizens_adopting_russian_children_may_be_amended_43659.html, accessed 3/17/15).

From the School of Russian and Asian Studies

Anyone who emigrated from Russia to the USA, even if by adoption, in 1992 or later, is still a Russian citizen unless specific steps have been taken to renounce the individual’s citizenship. Children adopted from Russia remain Russian citizens until they are 18 years of age, at which point they can choose to renounce citizenship. If no steps are taken to renounce citizenship, Russian citizenship is retained by default.

Russian law does NOT forbid carrying US citizenship as well as Russian. However, Russian law does not officially recognize dual citizenship, either. Russia requires their citizens, including those holding dual citizenship, to enter Russia on the basis of a Russian passport. Russian citizens may not receive a student (or any other) visa. It is illegal for a Russian citizen to enter Russia on a visa.

. . . .if you [as a student] enter Russia on the basis of your Russian passport, you are fully subject to Russian law. The US and Russia will consider you a Russian citizen while you are abroad in Russia. Students who find themselves in trouble with the authorities for whatever reason cannot expect the American Embassy to assist them. This can be of special importance to males between the ages of 18-27, which is the draft age for males in Russia.

The process of renouncing Russian citizenship can take between 6-12 months. To renounce Russian citizenship, one must have a valid (not expired) Russian passport. Renewing a Russian passport usually takes an additional 2-4 months. If someone in this dual-citizen situation is planning to study abroad in Russia at any point, or simply travel to Russia, this issue should be addressed as soon as possible. Starting this process when applying for most study abroad programs is already too late.

The position of the Russian Embassy, as we  [School of Russian and Asian Studies] perceive it, is that they [Russians] would prefer that you NOT renounce your citizenship. We suggest keeping this in mind and doing things in stages as they are likely to be more helpful on the stage of renewing your passport than on the latter stage of renouncing citizenship.
(Source: School of Russian and Asian Studies, “Dual Citizens, Adoptees, and Heritage Speakers
– Visa and Safety Issues,” http://www.sras.org/guides_dual_citizens, accessed 3/17/15)

Further reading:
FEDERAL LAW
NO. 62-FZ OF MAY 31, 2002
ON RUSSIAN FEDERATION CITIZENSHIP
http://www.legislationline.org/documents/action/popup/id/4189

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