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Russian Visa Demystified – Part I – Intro To Russian Visa

So, you’ve decided to outsource or offshore your business, services, or department, you’ve picked the local Russian partner, and are ready to start outsourcing. You, probably, need to meet your partner face-to-face and have to visit mother Russia. Unless you’re one of those lucky few citizens of these former USSR countries: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldavia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, or Uzbekistan, you’re required to obtain a visa to travel to Russia.

If you’re novice in Russian travel or it is your 10th something trip to Russia, I believe that our new Russian Visa Demystified corner will teach you the process of getting Russian visa from start to finish. I truly think that each of you will learn something new about Russian visas through articles. They will become handy money-saving readings.

Types of Russian Visa

If you want to be precise, there are 11 different Russian visa types:

* Diplomatic visa,

* Guest/Private Visit visa,

* Tourism visa,

* Work visa,

* Business/Commercial Visit visa,

* Student/Education visa,

* Government Business visa,

* Humanitarian visa,

* Transit visa (valid up to 72 hours),

* Temporary Stay visa,

* Refugee visa.

Each visa type corresponds to the stated purpose of your visit. During my professional experience I’ve noticed that around 90% of all issued Russian visas fall under TWO major visa categories:

Tourist Visa: 
is your first pick for short, up to 30 day, one-time visits to Russia even if you go for reasons other than tourism (e.g. business meetings, conferences, visiting relatives, etc.) Unfortunately, you will need a Business Visa, if you intend to stay beyond 30 days.

According to Russian bureaucracy TOURIST visa can be obtained with an official invitation/sponsorship/support letter (more on this in the next article) from a hotel or a travel agency, registered with the Department of Consular Service at Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (abbreviated as MFA).

The same law says it is illegal for a qualified travel agency or a hotel to provide you with an invitation if are not going to stay in a hotel. Luckily, this word of law is broken more often than followed because virtually all travel agencies can get you a visa sponsorship document and later register your Russian visa without you booking a single night in a hotel. Same holds true for hotels, they will register your visa not just for the nights you stay with them, but for your entire trip. Just don’t forget to ask! (more about registration in upcoming articles)

Business Visa 
provides you with much more flexibility: multiple entries to and out of Russia, validity for up to an entire year. Business visa is ideal for frequent business persons or those, who are staying in Russia for prolonged time. Officially, business visas are intended for business travelers, who travel to conduct business transactions (e.g. negotiations, contracts, exhibitions, etc.). But again, it is merely exception than a rule – you do not need to travel on an official company’s business, it might be a personal trip. You do not need to plan a hotel reservations or your itinerary, either. Please be aware that business visa does not imply an employment permit. You need to seek Work Visa if you’re about to receive money for your services.h1b材料

As other types of visas are not so prevalent, I will not cover them.

How & Where to Get Visa to Russia?

Normally, you should apply for a visa at a Russian consulate at the country you reside. If you’re currently traveling in a foreign country, you can apply at Russian consulate in that country in most cases. You need to submit to a Russian consulate various documents, depending on the type of visa and processing time you want:

1. A valid Passport: Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after your stated date of exit from Russia. For example, if you plan to depart from Russia on February 1st, your passport should be valid at least until August 1st. Also, you should make sure you have at least 2 blank pages for visas in your passport. If any of these is true you need to renew/add pages to your passport – contact your country’s embassy/consulate.

2. One Passport size photo: I advice to go to a passport photographer since he is familiar with passport style photograph requirements.

3. Visa Questionnaire/Application. The questionnaire has to be signed by you. À question-by-question guide will be published in the upcoming articles.

4. Visa Sponsorship/Invitation Letter from Russia: You should get the type of invitation letter that corresponds to required type of visa. For example, tourist invitation letter for tourism visa, business invitation letter for business visa, private invitation letter for private visit visa, and so forth. In most cases, the photocopy of visa support will suffice, but you need original letter of invitation if: