Russia needs immigrants to compensate for its shrinking workforce, head of the Federal Migration Service (FMS) said Friday.
Konstantin Romodanovsky said the amended migration law, which is set to come into force in January 2013, imposes mandatory language tests for newcomers, requires secondary education and tightens punishment for human trafficking.
He said Russia planned no amnesty for illegal immigrants. "People must respect our laws. There are enough opportunities (in Russia) for the legal work," he said.
According to the FMS, there are about 3.5 million illegal immigrants in the country out of 10 to 12 million foreign nationals living in Russia temporarily or permanently.
Meanwhile, Romodanovsky denied that Chinese immigrants threaten to change the demographic pattern of Siberia and the Far East.
"That opinion does not match the real situation. There is no expansion from China," he said.
Romodanovsky also denied that immigrants bring more crimes to Russia. "Only 3.4 percent of the crimes are committed by migrants. They come here to work," he said.
According to the latest census held in 2010, Russia has a population of 142.8 million with only some 70 million at "active economic age."
Since the last Soviet census in 1989, the Russian population has shrunk by 4.1 million.
"It is hard to imagine our country in 50 years if the trend persists," said Romodanovsky.
Russia is the eighth most populous country in the world.