How to get Russian Visa

Hello everybody! Today we will enlarge our “useful stuff” section and talk about getting a Russian Visa – the thing you will definitely need in case you want to travel, work or live here. It is supposed that Russian visa is smth scare and hard to get but as it usual is in our life – the rumours are much more scarier than the reality. If you will do everythin in right sequence you will get your visa within a few days indeed without dealing with greedy tour agencies or bureaucracy.  So here you’ll find a step-by-step instruction about what and how to do to get your visa in more painless manner. Let’s go!

1. What the heck Is a Russian Visa?
A visa is a document attached to passport. If you have this you are allowed to enter and leave Russian Federation during a period specified in the document. If you are foreigner and not a citizen of Serbia or CIS countries – you are obliged to have visa to enter Russia.

A visa itself looks like this:

photo by Wheelcipher@FlickR

At the moment there are six types of visas:
1) tourist visa
2) business visa
3) student visa
4) work visa
5) transit visa
6) personal visa

Different visas has different price/ speed of processing/ number of entries/ period of stay and you should consider what suits you more. Of course if you want just to make some short business meetings there is no need to purchase a real business visa – a tourist one will suffice.

As usual – a tourist and business visas alre always safe bet – they are quite flexible, cheap and fast in processing. If you will be here not longer than a month and want to get visa easily – be sure to take a tourist visa. But if you plan to stay longer or need a muliple-entry opportunity – than a business visa is your choice although .

2. How/where to get the Russian Visa
The best and single place to obtain a Russian visa is a Russian consulate in your country. To apply you should to submit all required documents depending on the type of visa you’ve chosen.

As we now considering the easier way – a tourist visa – you will need to submit your passport, three photos, application form and an invitation from Russia.
if you apply for other types of visas requirements may vary – so its better to ensure all the stuff on the consulate website (to find it use Google). As the consulate is not your best friend they will charge you a certain visa fee (it depends on the type of visa). The average sum of this fee is about $70 and processing time is from week to two.

3. What’s the invitation? How do i get it?
if you are doing all step-by-step as we describe this you alreadey should have all documents prepared and available. I think except the invitation. This special document is issued by the third party (like hotel, friends, colleagues – in each case the type of invitation differs) and required by the consulate to process your visa request.

If you are a tourist (your case i think ;)) a tourist invitation is needed. It looks like this:

After you receive the invitation, you should add it to your package of documents for consulate and apply for your Russian visa. Some consulates accept only originals of invitation so call them first not to give a copy and get refusal. In case they want only original (which is not that often) you can get it by post from the issuing party. This invitation contains two papers: tourist voucher and tourist confirmation. Costs about $30 and takes about 1 day to be issued (can be faster).

As you can imagine a business invitation takes longer to be issued and costs more. But in the other hand – a business visa to Russia obtained with this invitation allows up to 12 month stay in Russia (whereas a tourist visa allows only 30 days) and multiple entries. With this visa you can continiously stay in Russia for not longer than 3 months perion within a 180-day period – all this cool things will cost you about $90 bucks. The invitation can be sent to your e-mail or fax, to the post office and by telex directly to the consulate – the most convenient way as for me.

If you need longer stay then you should consider other opportunities like separate 3-months business visas, work-permit and finding a job in Russia or becoming a Student of Russian schools or universities.

Also in case you manage your documents through local travel agency in your country the consulate may ask you to give them a cover letter with your name, dates, points of arrival/departure in Russia, travel afency reference number etc. As i know this letter is now required if you deal with Russian travel agency.

4. How much/long will it take?
After you got your invitation you’re almost done – just bring all the docs to the consulate, they will accept your papers, charge a visa fee and process your visa up to 14 days. So be patient. Usually it takes about 9 days, however. Total visa expenses in case of tourist one will be about $30 plus $50 visa fee. So – $80 bucks and everything is fine!

5. Migration Card
You as a foreigner are obliged to fill in a migration card, which will be given to you after crossing the Russian border. You should to put in this card your personal information, terms of stay in the country plus the purpose of the visit and residential address (here you should write the name of inviting company and its address – all as in your invitation paper).On the border you will give this card to the officials when leavine the country.

Visitors of the country also sometimes can be asked about duration of their stay in Russia – in such case you should show a proof – return tickets for eg. After this your migration card will be stamped with a departure date.

6. Registration of a Russian Visa
If there are no weekend or holidays you should register your visa within 7 working day upon your arrival to any Russian city. Registration is done by your hotel so don’t panic. If you are not staying in the hotel reinting a flat – this operations should be made by your landlord.

As usual in Russia to to do smth you shoould fill the form on the paper and submit it to the immigration authorities where you will be charged additional fee (very small though) – $6-$8 (150-200 RUR). As in any Russian state organisations here you will be welcomed by at least one-hour queue. But still this is a problem of your hotel/landlord you will not suffer at all!

After the submitting of this for you will get a special paper with the mark about submissin – carry it with you all the time, or else you can be fined. the fine for unregistered visa is $30 and possible deportation (don’t think it could be but who knows).

The last interesting moment is that after your departure form the country your hotel or landlord must notify the authorities that you’ve left by sending them the secon part of the authorisation form – if they won’t do it – they will be fined and you might not be able to enter Russia again. So its better to somehow make sure they did all that they must do.

Foof, the post got quite long, didn’t it? However iam sure you will find a lot of useful info here. Good luck and welcome to Russia mates 😉

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