April 21, 2021

North Korea could deploy more illegal workers abroad using new Russian e-visas

Russia rolled out a new visa program to 52 countries, experts say it could weaken the U.N. ban on DPRK workers

For years, thousands of North Koreans worked abroad in countries like Russia and China, funneling large chunks of their earnings back to the DPRK government. Now, more than a year after the U.N. banned overseas North Korean workers in an effort to squeeze the country’s nuclear programs, experts are raising concerns about a new Russian e-visa that could be used to circumvent sanctions.

As of Jan. 1 of this year, citizens from 52 countries including North Korea can apply for simplified Russian e-visas. The legal change, announced in Nov. 2020, no longer requires a Russian entity such as a person, company, school, tour group or hotel to extend a “formal invitation” to foreigners in order for them to enter the country.