Measures To Reduce The Level Of Shadow Phenomena In Migration


The article is devoted to shadow phenomena in the field of migration and some measures to reduce their level, reflects problematic issues in the activities of state supervisory and controlling bodies working in the field of migration. Since migration policy in Russia, as in many other countries, is far from perfect, the modernization of the current system of managing migration processes and the development of measures to reduce the level of shadow phenomena in the field of migration are fraught with a whole series of problematic issues that require both scientific understanding and practical implementation. To answer questions concerning the difficulties of this factor in the labor market or the competition for jobs between the local indigenous population and labor migrants and how labor migration affects the demographic situation in the country the analysis of the labor market, demographic situation and unemployment rate were carried out. Based on the analysis and study of problematic issues, measures are proposed to reduce the level of shadow phenomena in the field of migration. A large list of various sources has been studied, consisting of statistical data, analytical reviews, scientific texts and journal articles.

Keywords: Shadow economylabor migrantslabor marketunemploymentgovernment agencies


One of the pressing issues affecting Russian society and the domestic labor market today is the growing internal labor migration from rural areas to large cities, as well as an increase in demand for the use of foreign labor. The huge influx of migrants into the Russian Federation, primarily from the former Soviet republics across the southern borders, includes a significant number of illegal immigrants who have become actively involved in the shadow economy. In large cities of our country, illegal immigrants have created influential ethnic communities, and have established strong ties with local criminal groups. Illegal labor migration is closely linked to national diasporas, which often act as intermediaries in hiring new foreign citizens. The constant rotation of migrants promotes illegal employment, as both the employer and the employee have mutual interests in the implementation of labor relations outside the framework of official migration rules. As it was rightly noted professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences Kapinus (2016) illegal migration continues to be a factor contributing to the emergence of interethnic and interfaith tensions, the spread of extremism, which has recently become violent.

Many Russian businessmen are willing to hire illegal immigrants because of the imbalance between the consistently high demand for cheap labor and the meager supply of local workers. Often, our compatriots will prefer to stay at home without work and earnings, then they will undertake low-paying and prestigious work. Reducing the level of illegal migration and finding effective ways to regulate it are one of the most difficult tasks of migration policy, even for countries with long-standing migration traditions and rules. In Russia, this problem is relatively new, and therefore, our state will have to repeatedly encounter a lot of obstacles in the way of resolving it.

It is noted in the Concept of the state migration policy of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2025 (2012), the imperfection of the current system of managing migration processes is manifested in the presence of a large number of illegal migrants. Illegal migration, which feeds the shadow sector of the economy with labor, is one of the main reasons for the growing negative attitude towards migrants on the part of the population of the Russian Federation.

Problem Statement

Migration policy in Russia, as in many other countries, is far from perfect. The modernization of the current system of migration management and the development of measures to reduce the level of shadow phenomena in the field of migration are fraught with a whole series of problematic issues that require both scientific understanding and practical implementation. In particular, Russia is characterized by the need for cheap labor provided by labor migrants, and at the same time, there is an urgent problem of unemployment of the indigenous population of the country, increased competition in the labor market, and as a natural result, negative attitude towards foreign citizens and growing social tension.

For the purpose of a full and comprehensive review of the designated topic, it seems appropriate to consider the identified problematic issues to develop a set of measures to resolve them.

Research Questions

In the course of studying the topics identified in this article, the following issues were considered:

  • Are there issues and weaknesses in the activities of state oversight and regulatory bodies in the field of migration?

  • Is foreign labor migration a complicating factor in the labor market? Is there competition for jobs between the local indigenous population and migrant workers?

  • Does labor migration affect the demographic situation in the country?

Purpose of the Study

The aim of the study is to study the problematic issues related to the sphere of labor migration and the associated shadow economy, as well as to develop a set of measures aimed at reducing the level of shadow phenomena in the field of migration.

Research Method

Analysis of the activities of state supervisory and controlling bodies in the field of migration

The activities of state bodies in the field of migration, quite naturally, are not without minuses, problematic issues, corruption, legislative gaps and bureaucratic costs. However, in our country, in general, a very rare sphere of state, financial, economic and social activity is devoid of such disadvantages.

Among the state bodies of the Russian Federation that work with foreign citizens, three law enforcement agencies play the largest role, namely: The Border Directorate of the Federal Security Service of Russia, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia represented by units on migration issues, and the Federal Bailiff Service of Russia. It is advisable in order to analyze the activities of each of these three departments.

Work with a foreign citizen begins from the very moment when he arrived on the territory of our country. And, accordingly, the first officials who meet a foreigner are border guards, whose main task is to ensure the inviolability of the State border of the Russian Federation and to suppress attempts to illegally cross it, without legal grounds, officially issued valid documents and proper permission. In practice, the activities of border officials are often aimed at identifying the so-called “shifters” - foreign nationals who have previously been decided to expel from Russia with a ban on entry for several years. However, as you know, the need for inventions is tricky. Migrant workers have long and regularly learned to apply the wonders of ingenuity and ingenuity, especially in cramped circumstances. One of such simple ways to circumvent the ban on entry into the territory of Russia is to amend your personal data (surname, name or patronymic) and obtain a new national passport in the country of your permanent residence. After that, a migrant can again go to Russia to earn money, which is called "from scratch." In this case, it is not necessary to take a new name for yourself, or completely change the surname. It will be quite enough to change just one letter in your last name, and in all our departmental databases and registers of registration of foreign citizens, this person will be listed as the first to arrive in the country, without a dark past that does not allow you to be in Russia.

Exposing such a “shifter” and establishing his initial personal data is possible only during verification of his fingerprints on a special device. However, not all of our border posts and migration departments are equipped with these devices, and unscrupulous migrants have a real chance to come back to our country to earn money even during the current entry ban.

In accordance with Part 1 of Art. 32.10 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (Code of the Russian Federation on administrative offenses, 2001), the expulsion of foreign citizens from the Russian Federation can be performed in two forms:

  • By controlled independent check-out;

  • By official transfer of a foreign citizen to a representative of the authorities of a foreign state into whose territory the specified person is expelled.

A distinctive feature of these forms of expulsion is that in the first case, a foreign citizen purchases tickets at his own expense and leaves the territory of Russia on his own. In the second case, a ticket to a foreign citizen is usually purchased at the expense of the federal budget, and this person leaves the Russian Federation under the control of the competent authorities (Morozov, 2016).

The entire procedure for the forced expulsion of a foreign citizen from Russia is carried out by employees of the Federal Bailiff Service. The main problem in the implementation of forced expulsion is the lack of funding for this type of activity. The cost of expulsion, quite naturally, depends on the distance that an alien needs to cover under the control and supervision of the bailiffs. For example, illegal immigrants from China caught by law enforcement officials in the border regions of the Far East of Russia are enough to get on a bus and deliver them in droves to a border checkpoint for a controlled transition to China. The cost of this expulsion will not be high. However, the same illegal migrants from China caught in the Leningrad Region will have to buy plane tickets, which will cost the budget of our country a round sum. Every year, in the process of forced expulsion, our domestic budget loses hundreds of millions of rubles. In anticipation of expulsion, a foreign citizen can spend more than one month in a special center for temporary detention of foreign citizens, where budget funds are also spent on his maintenance.

The greatest burden on working with foreign citizens falls on the employees of the migration departments and departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, who are daily at the epicenter of the fight against illegal migration and are forced to identify and suppress the various tricks that foreigners use to stay in our territory for as long as possible country.

One of the problematic issues in the activities of police officers is the identification of the so-called “rubber apartments”, or, more simply, the housing area in which a large number of foreign citizens are fictitiously registered. At the same time, it is important not to lose sight of signs that clearly signal potential violations. Such signs may, for example, be the regular and unreasonable registration of foreign citizens by the same person in the same apartment. Or registration in a small apartment with an area of ​​such a number of foreigners that simply physically cannot fit in it. Also, a sign of a possible offense will be the registration of foreigners in the living space, which, due to its dilapidation, is completely unsuitable for people to live, however, according to all available documents and registries it is a full-fledged housing.

All the actions described above are aimed at the fictitious registration of foreign citizens constitute a crime under Article 322.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (1996) - fictitious registration of a foreign citizen or stateless person at the place of stay in the Russian Federation. The sanction of this article criminalizes up to three years in prison.

Fake registration is carried out, as a rule, by low-income and alcohol abusers. The circumstances that contribute to the commission of this crime are the lack of standards for moving into a living space, and therefore, an unlimited number of people can be registered in a small one-room apartment, as well as the notification nature of registration of foreign citizens, which manifests itself in the fact that a person who wants to register a foreign citizen in his square meters, may not appear in person with the foreigner personally in the local migration department, but has legal grounds to send all the necessary documents through a multifunctional center or a Russian Post office.

Analysis of the labor market, the study of the demographic situation and the unemployment rate

The problem of employment of illegal migrants, as an integral part of the Russian economy, is still largely ignored by supervisory authorities, however, an analysis of this problem is important for the development of an economic strategy. There are several socio-economic aspects of illegal employment that are relevant for Russia today. So, for example, it is safe to say that the development of small businesses, especially in the field of construction and the provision of services, was a stimulating factor in the sharp increase in illegal migration. Some branches of agriculture use illegal migrants exclusively for additional seasonal labor, primarily during harvesting.

From a geographical point of view, the most popular employment zones for illegal immigrants are border areas, large cities, and densely populated industrial centers. Indeed, it is in these places that the maximum number of jobs offers is the opportunity to earn the most money for your work.

Also a regularity is the fact that the overwhelming majority of migrants enter our country without their families, since illegal employment is usually short-term and involves difficulties and domestic disruption, and the presence of a family in a foreign country for migrants carries additional risks and financial costs.

The activities of criminal groups specializing in organizing illegal migration and human trafficking are identified as one of the main threats to state and public security in the National security strategies of the Russian Federation (2015), approved by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of December 31, 2015 No. 683. The main factors affecting the constant influx of foreigners into Russia are:

  • A wide list of vacancies in the labor market, the interest of employers in cheap labor;

  • A more stable economic situation and a higher standard of living compared to other CIS countries and far abroad;

  • The imperfection of Russian legislation governing the entry, residence and employment of foreigners, the lack of an effective system of migration control, the "transparency" of Russian borders with neighboring countries;

  • The geographical position of Russia, favorable for transit from Asia to Europe, and the vast territories of our country, where it is easy to get lost from the regulatory authorities.

This unique combination of legal, socio-economic and geopolitical factors makes the problem of illegal migration of our country intractable in the near future. In addition, another important factor in the fact that the doors of our state are widely open to foreign citizens is the ongoing demographic crisis for more than a year.

According to the experts from Rosstat (Death statistics according to Rosstat, 2020), over the twelve months of 2019, the number of citizens born in our country amounted to 1,604,344 people, the number of deaths was 1,828,910 people, the natural population decline (exceeding the number of deaths over the number of births) was 224,566 people. The total population of Russia as of January 1, 2020 amounted to 146,745,098 people. According to the average version of the demographic forecast of the Federal State Statistics Service (2020), while maintaining this unfavorable dynamics, by January 1, 2035, the country's population may be reduced to 143,128,200 people.

At the same time, according to the statistics of the Main Directorate for Migration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia (Federal state statistics service, 2020), for the same twelve months of 2019, 19 518 304 foreign citizens and stateless persons were registered for migration in the country, 497 817 foreigners acquired Russian Federation citizenship, issued temporary residence permits 234 705, issued residence permits 182 079 (Key indicators on the migration situation in the Russian Federation, 2019).

According to the analytical review of the All-Russian Research Institute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, the largest group of foreign citizens arriving in Russia are young men in the age groups of 18 - 29 years old, as well as 30 - 39 years old. Nearly half of foreigners have “work” as the goal of arriving in the Russian Federation (Kovalenko et al., 2018).

According to the famous researcher of migration processes, doctor of historical sciences, professor of Irkutsk State University Dyatlov (2007) Russia turns into a country of migrants - and this may turn out to be a radical turn in the development of its new quality.

According to the latest data from Rosstat (Data from Rosstat, 2020), as of February 2020, 3.4 million people are unemployed in our country. The unemployment rate is calculated in accordance with the criteria of the International Labor Organization, while unemployed include people who do not have a job or a profitable occupation, who are looking for work and are ready to start it immediately.

Studying data on the unemployment rate, it is quite natural to ask a question about whether migrant workers are competitors to Russian citizens in the labor market? Answering this question, the objective conclusion suggests itself that such competition, of course, exists. If only because in our cities and towns, which are slowly but surely, due to the lack of large salaries and prospects, give megalopolises their most active and educated natives, young, able-bodied, low-drinking and income-oriented people come (Mukhachev & Svetlanov, 2019).

Against the background of aggravation of instability in the economic, sociopolitical and other spheres of life, the prevailing political stereotypes form the prerequisites for the development of migrant phobia among the local population (Sandugey, 2018). At the same time, a well-thought-out and balanced migration policy of the state can significantly minimize the negative manifestations of the indigenous population. This can be achieved, for example, through publicly friendly coverage of the positive contribution of migrants to the economic and cultural development of the host state, improving the standard of living and well-being of the population.


In order to further maintain migration stability in the country and reduce the level of shadow phenomena in the field of migration, it seems necessary and appropriate to implement a set of the following measures:

  • To strengthen educational activities among migrants, including informing them of their rights and obligations, the norms of the current legislation, measures of social support for foreign citizens, legal ways to resolve problems related to finding a job, paperwork, and providing medical services;

  • To optimize the work of internal affairs agencies, law enforcement agencies, state supervisory and controlling bodies in the field of migration in order to reduce red tape in the preparation of documents, to prevent abuse by unscrupulous employees and officials, and to prevent corruption;

  • Based on the needs of the national labor market and the unemployment rate, to develop and implement in practice a mechanism for calculating the required amount of foreign labor resources for a specific territory and a specific period of time, first of all, to provide vacant jobs to Russian citizens;

  • To introduce the practice of the wide involvement of the public, religious communities and national diasporas in working with foreign citizens in order to study their Russian mentality, overcome the language barrier and quickly adapt migrants to living conditions in Russia;

  • To study world experience in the field of migration policy, introduce positive aspects into national legislation, the work of internal affairs bodies and state authorities on a regular basis.


Population migration, both internal and external, has always been one of the key factors that have a significant impact on social, economic, cultural, demographic and political processes, as well as on the historical development of any state. The focus on the implementation of measures to reduce the level of shadow phenomena in the field of migration and the modernization of mechanisms for regulating migration flows will allow to realize in a short time the positive potential inherent in the processes of population migration, accelerate the country's socio-economic development, which ultimately will lead to an increase in the well-being of society.


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21 October 2020

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Cite this article as:

Mukhachiov, A. A., & Svetlakov, A. G. (2020). Measures To Reduce The Level Of Shadow Phenomena In Migration. In I. V. Kovalev, A. A. Voroshilova, G. Herwig, U. Umbetov, A. S. Budagov, & Y. Y. Bocharova (Eds.), Economic and Social Trends for Sustainability of Modern Society (ICEST 2020), vol 90. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1637-1644). European Publisher.