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How can I get a Russian Visa?

All foreign visitors traveling to Russia must have a visa.
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  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2014
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All foreigners visiting Russia require a visa. Visa requirements are very restrictive, and it may take several weeks for the paperwork to go through. While a visitor can apply for a Russian visa at the nearest Embassy, the papers must be approved by the Passport and Visa Department (UVIR) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs before an official visa can be issued.

Before making travel arrangements, it's important to choose the right Russian visa. The most common types of Russian visa are transit, tourism, and residence visas. Foreigners who are in Russia even for a few hours require a transit visa in order to avoid delays and complications. Tourist visas may be the easiest to obtain, since they're usually handled by travel companies on behalf of the traveler. However, a tourist visa must specify every city to be visited and the length of time the visa holder will spend there.

Work visas are, surprisingly, the easiest to get. Once a company has signed a contract with you, they are in charge of obtaining the preliminary paperwork, which can take up to twenty days. Once you receive the approved invitation, you can go to the Embassy to obtain your Russian visa. Travelers who intend to stay in Russia longer than a month are also required to take an HIV test and provide proof of medical insurance before they are issued a Russian visa.

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A Russian visa must be sponsored. This means that somebody in Russia must invite the foreigner to visit the country. The sponsor may be a tour group, a family member, or an employer. The person or entity issuing the invitation is also responsible for registering the foreigner with the local authorities once he or she arrives in Russia. Registration must be completed within three days of arrival; in some cases, such as one-year work visas, the process can take up to six weeks.

An exit visa is required to leave Russia. This is usually issued automatically but it can be cancelled due to irregularities, so it's always a good idea to check its validity before traveling. Overstaying a Russian visa is a serious problem, and it can lead to severe fines and even detention. Losing your passport, your migration card, or your Russian visa can also become a serious problem, so make sure that you keep these papers in a secure location. Carry photocopies with you whenever possible.

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MrSmirnov
Post 3

Does anyone have any experience with obtaining a Russian business visa if you want to go to the country and try and set up some work with the locals?

I know that there are many kinds of Russian embassy visas available, but I haven't found many answers to the questions that I have. I have a small business and am thinking about meeting with some contacts in Russia about expanding some of my business there. I would be acting as a consultant while the Russian locals would be doing the real work. I haven't had much luck with the Russian consulate yet, so any tips would be appreciated.

wander
Post 2

@animegal - It is possible to get Russian tourist visas through things like hostels, but you have to do your research before hand. I have found that Russian visas for Americans are easy enough to get if you are patient and deal with a decent travel organization.

Most hostels in Russia offer to help with Russian travel visas and are a low-cost alternative to some larger tour companies. The hostels are also well versed on visa laws and can keep you up to date on any changes in the system. They also can arrange Russian transit visas if you ask which can really save you time on your trip.

animegal
Post 1

Can anyone tell me the best place to get Russian tourist visas that include the sponsorship?

My friends and I are planning on visiting Russia after backpacking through Europe and are wondering if we need to deal with the Russian embassy or Russian Consulate by ourselves. Or will there be also be an intermediary there to help us out with his trip?

We are a bit worried as we have heard that getting Russian travel visas can be a huge pain and can get costly, depending on who you are dealing with. We are on a tight budget, so we don't want to waste too much cash on just the paperwork.

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