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How to get a Visa in Russia
Russia like most countries in the world requires that you have an entry visa before you can visit. For the Russian Federation, a visa is a document that grants you permission to visit or stay in Russia for a specified time period. It is an important document reflecting your vital information, entry and exit date, details about your host as well as your passport details. Application for the Russian visa can be done personally or through a travel agency. However, most agents may limit the validity of your visa to the number of days you will be staying at your hotel or have you “locked” in a fixed itinerary. Therefore, it is better if you can have it done personally to avoid such bureaucratic delays. Below, I have laid down what you need to know about the visa and how it can be obtained.
Types of Visas
There are several types of visas and thus you have to be specific about the type that is ideal for you as a foreigner in Russia;
Business Visa: Allows a maximum of two entries and is valid for 90 days
Multiple Entry Business Visa: Features unlimited number of entries with a validity of 365 days
Work Visa: Intended for people working in Russia constantly. Valid for several years.
Tourist Visa: Allow for a maximum of two entries with a validity of 30 days
Transit Visa: Allows stay for transit purposes alone. Allows for a maximum of two entries with a validity period of 30 days.
Student Visa: Features an unlimited number of entries and is valid for several years.
Humanitarian Visa: Valid for 365 days with an unlimited number of entries.
Regardless of which visa you are applying for, the following documents should be submitted to either the Consulate or the Russian Embassy;
1. Invitation to Russia from an organization or an individual host.
2. A valid picture of the applicant with Russian specifications.
3. A valid original national passport that is valid for more than six months after the expiry date of the visa.
4. Two copies of the Russian visa application form completely signed and filled out by the applicant.
5. Specified bank check or a money order made out to the Russian Embassy or Consulate for processing of the visa.
6. Booking form
Procedure of Application
Step 1: Confirm your visa type
Before you begin the process of visa application, you have to be sure about the type of visa you need. As I indicated before, the type of vise will depend on the purpose of your visit to Russia.
Step 2: Obtain Visa support or the invitation letter
Dates are very important since they will be indicated on your visa showing when you get in and when you will get out. Therefore, you have to take note of the dates of your trip before you go ahead to apply for the visa. In addition to that, the cities you plan to visit or hotels and apartment that you will stay in should be outlined. The visa application form will require this information.
Step 3: Set up your itinerary
Another important thing at the initial stages of visa application is to obtain the invitation letter. The invitation letter is issued by a Russian business, institution, hotel or person that you are supposed to visit. Note that a letter of invitation and a hotel reservation are two different things. Similarly, a visa support can be used though it is mostly used for tourists.
Step 4: Confirm the dates on your passport
Consular departments dictate that your passport should be valid for more than six months after the expiry of your visa. Additionally, you should ensure that you have the necessary blank pages that may be required the consular.
Step 5: Locate a Russian visa center of consular department
It is advisable to find the nearest visa center or consular department for convenience. You can check the status of your visa application, tariffs or familiarize with rules at the visa centers.
Step 6: Get your accommodation booked
Booking can be done at the apartment or hotel of your choice though it is necessary that you have it before applying for a Travel Visa in Russia. This can be done online for any restaurant or apartment in Russia or else you can request the information from them.
Step 7: Purchase health insurance
Health insurance is necessary and required by the consular departments in Russia when applying for a visa. The health insurance should cover the whole period that you will be in Russia. However, in the event that you already have travel health insurance, all you need to do is to confirm that it is legitimate in Russia.
Step 8: Take a passport-size photo of yourself
A recent passport-size photo of you is one of the requirements for applying for the Russian Passport. Ensure you have taken one before embarking on the application of your passport.
Step 9: Fill the visa application form
Now that you have all the necessary information such as entry/exit dates, letter of invitation and passport, you can fill the visa form. Filling of the visa form can also be done online.
Step 10: Submit the visa application form
After having the form filled out, you can proceed on to submission with together with the application fee that will be quoted to you. When you are done and you have ensured that every required document is available, present it at any nearby Russian Embassy office.
Step 11: Collect your visa
All you have to do after presenting the documents to the Russian Consular Department is to wait. When the specified date for collection comes, remember to bring with you the receipt you received after submission. This way you will easily collect your visa.
Step 12: Collect your Migration Card
A migration card will be requested at the point of entry into Russia. Therefore, you have to obtain a migration card before you are allowed into Russia. The form for a migration card is filled and submitted at passport control. You will be allowed to retain half of the form at the passport control which you have to present on your way out of Russia.
Step 13: Get your visa registered
Registry of your visa is demanded upon arrival in Russia. You have to get your visa registered within seven days upon arrival. Whoever is providing you with accommodation have to see to it that your visa is registered within the specified time. Hotels do it at the reception while the invitation letter can be used for student visas. Proof for registration has to be submitted to passport control.
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