How to obtain a visa in the Russian Consulate?

A foreign national will be required to submit an entry visa upon arrival to Russia, unless their country of citizenship has a valid visa-free regime with Russia. Here are the main steps to obtaining a Russian visa.

The first step is to define the purpose of visit to Russia to further determine the type of visa required. The most popular visa types, which are obtained the most frequently, are tourist, business and work visas.

  • Tourist visa is the perfect option for those travellers, who intend to visit Russia for sightseeing, attending cultural and/or sporting events or to relax and unwind during a nice long spa retreat. Tourist visas are available in a single or a double entry options.  Acquiring a tourist invitation for a foreign national is rather quick. This type of invitation is also known as a tourist voucher. It must contain all the information about the inviting party (name, address and phone number of the travel agency that issued the voucher), along with all the lodging details for the travelling party. Tourist invitations may only be issued by organizations, which are accredited at the Consular Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. A tourist voucher must also state the amount of entries to Russia. Having a voucher allows its holder to apply for a single or multiple entry visa, which can be valid for up to 30 days.
  • Business visa can be of a single, doubly or multiple entry and can be valid for up to 1 year.  In certain cases, some foreign national s may be issued a business visa that is valid for up to 5 years. When applying for a multiple entry business visa, it is important to consider the 90 day restriction, according to which a foreign national can only reside in Russia for no longer than 90 days (consecutive or not) within any 180 day period.  If the inviting party is a commercial organization, the invitation can only be acquired through the Federal Migration Services of the Russian Federation. If the inviting organization is non-commercial or government-based, the invitation must be acquired through the Consular Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. 
  • Work visa must be obtained by those foreign nationals, who intend to seek employment in Russia. This type of visa takes rather long to obtain. It requires quite a large amount of documentation that must be submitted by the potential employer of the applying foreign national. First, the employing organization must obtain a “Certificate of feasibility of implementing foreign labor”.  Then, a work authorization permit shall be obtained for a specific foreign national. Afterwards, the employing company can apply for the work invitation for their future employee. Work invitation is initially issued for up to 90 days. After the foreign national’s arrival to the Russian Federation, the employer must submit certain documents to extend their employee’s work visa to the same validity as the work authorization permit. Work visa is a multiple entry visa, which is not affected by the 90 day restriction.  Work visa is valid for as long as the work authorization permit and is subject to renewal for another year.

The second step is acquiring the invitation. If a foreign national is looking to obtain a tourist visa, an appropriate invitation can be issued to them by a travel agency. If they are applying for a business visa or for a work visa, the invitation must be obtained through the Federal Migration Services. An invitation for a business visa can also be issued by the Consular Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

If an invitation is issued by the travel agency, it can be obtained by the foreign national at the agency’s local office in their country. If an invitation is issued on the Federal Migration Services form or on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation form, it must be mailed to the recipient using an international mailing courier. Another option of delivering the invitation is via Telex, which allows to send it directly to the Consulate (this option is only available for business invitations).

Acquire an invitation to Russia for a foreign national online

Acquire an invitation

The third step is using the invitation to obtain a Russian entry visa at the Consulate. Upon receiving the invitation, one can apply for the desired visa type at the Consulate by submitting the invitation, their passport, a filled out visa application and 2 pictures. If the invitation was delivered via Telex, the applicant will be notified of the delivery date by their inviting party and instead of submitting the invitation with their application, they must provide the invitation number. It is also necessary to pay the consular fee, which depends on the visa type. In certain cases, other documentation may be required, which is why it is important to confirm the list of necessary documents prior to applying. 

Upon receiving the Russian visa, it is essential to verify that all the information is correct (especially entry/departure dates). If any mistakes or discrepancies are found in the visa, make sure to attend to the issue immediately at the Russian Consulate, because no corrections may be made after entering Russia.

The fourth step is entering the Russian Federation. Once the visa is received, the visa holder is then allowed to travel to Russia. Upon crossing the border, the foreign national will be issued a migration card (after the authorities verify their visa), which has to be filled out in Russian. The migration card and the passport will be stamped with the date and place of entering the Russian Federation.  

Read more: Procedure of obtaining a Russian visa at a Russian Consulate

The fifth step is registering the visa in Russia. A visa must be registered within 7 days upon arrival of the foreign national to Russia. The registration process is usually handled by the inviting party. It can also be done by the employee of a hotel, where the foreign national is staying. If the traveller is staying at a private residence, then the property owner shall assist their guest in registering the visa.

The sixth step is acting in compliance with the visa expiration date. The validity of the visa is indicated on its top section. The visa holder must leave Russia before their visa expires. If it was not possible for any justifiable reason, an exit visa must be obtained.  Please take into consideration that it takes 3-5 days to process and costs between 150 and 300 dollars. Supporting documentation will be required to prove that a timely departure from the Russian Federation was not possible due to justifiable cirumstances.

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