Visa to Russia for foreign citizens - Overview

Tourist Visa Invitation Letter

In order to apply for a tourist visa, a foreigner must have an invitation in hand. If the invitation is available, a tourist visa to Russia valid for up to 30 days can be obtained. Such an invitation is issued on the letterhead of a tour operator acting as the inviting party. The tour operator is required to have an individual reference number.

According to the legislation of the Russian Federation, a properly arranged tourist visa invitation consist of two parts: confirmation of acceptance of the foreign tourist and a tourist voucher. Tourist vouchers issued by different travel companies will not be identical in appearance (due to the fact that the letterheads of different companies have different designs).

Read more: Tourist Visa Invitation Letter

That being said, an invitation issued by any travel company must contain:

  • official name of the company, its details and reference number
  • foreign person's passport data
  • travel route (list of Russian cities the foreigner plans to visit)
  • place of accommodation in Russia (hotel, guest house, etc.)
  • number of entries and validity period requested by the invitation.

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Business Visa Invitation Letter

Only accredited organizations can act as the inviting party when preparing an invitation for business visa. A business visa invitation for a foreigner can be arranged in one of three ways: on the FMS form, by Telex or in the form of a letter.

Read more: Business visa invitation letter

On the FMS form

A representative of the inviting organization can apply for a business visa invitation by submitting the package of documents at the FMS office located at the place of the company's registration. A background check to determine whether the foreign person is prohibited entry into Russia must return negative for the visa to be granted. Next, the original invitation should be sent to the foreigner. He/she will need to present it when applying for his/her visa at the Russian consulate.

Read more: FMS form 

Considering the application will take some time. For single- and double-entry business visas, the review period is normally 17 calendar days. Expedited processing time would be 10 working days. Applications for a multiple business visa are reviewed within 21 days, while the expedited procedure requires 17 days.

Issue a business visa invitation to Russia on the FMS form

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By Telex

Using Telex is a very convenient way to invite a foreign person. In this case, the invitation will have a form of a message sent from the Russian Foreign Ministry to the consular office of the Russian Federation located abroad via a special communication channel. It can be sent upon an application from the inviting organization, which is accredited by the Consular Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With this option chosen, the foreigner will not need to handle any documents, the Telex number will be enough. This number must be provided when applying for the visa at the Consulate. For a single- or double-entry business visas the processing period, when using Telex, is 7 days, while for multiple-entry visas it's 13 days.

Read more: Telex (MID)

After the simplified visa regime with the United States and the EU countries had been introduced, a new opportunity has emerged to make out invitation letters for foreigners in the form of a letter issued by a company. Also, the maximum validity period of business visas for citizens of these countries has been extended: for citizens of the United States up to 3 years, for citizens of the EU up to 5 years. 

Read more: What is the difference between the original invitation and the Telex invitation

Arranging a business invitation by Telex

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In the form of a letter issued by a company

The letter, issued by the inviting company to the foreign person, should contain an application to the Russian consular office requesting a visa for that person. Also, the letter should justify and explain the need for inviting the foreign person to visit the Russian Federation.

Read more: Letter of invitation on the letterhead of an accredited company

In the case of arranging the invitation in the form of a letter, the process of obtaining a business visa can take longer than with any other type of invitation available. This is due to the companies being subject to a check to ensure they are authorized to issue such invitations, while the foreign citizen's record will be reviewed to determine if he/she is permitted to enter Russia.

Persons who use such invitations are normally allowed to attach a copy of the letter when applying for visa, however in some cases the officials may request the original letter. Arranging a letter of invitation takes 1 day.

Find out more: Why use Telex or issue the invitation at the FMS when I can arrange an invitation from an organization

Issue a business visa invitation to Russia in the form of a letter

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Private Visa Invitation Letter

To arrange a private invitation for the foreigner, the inviting party must submit an application to the office of the FMS. In this case, both individuals and legal persons located on the territory of the Russian Federation may act as the inviting party. Individuals must be of legal age, they may be both Russian or foreign citizens who are residents of Russia in possession of relevant permission documents.

Read more: Visitor Visa Invitation

An invitation will be issued to the inviting party or representative of a legal person after the foreign citizen's personal details will be verified to determine whether he/she has or has not violated any laws during his/her previous visits to Russia.  Processing of this type of invitation will take up to 30 days from the date when the inviting party has submitted the documents to the office of the FMS.

Please note! We do not recommend using a private visa!
Why? Read more: Why not apply for a private visa?

Invitation for a private visa will be issued to the foreign person on the FMS-approved form including its individual number, number of invitation, the foreigner's passport data, details of the inviting party, number of entries and validity period of the requested visa, as well as the official's signature and the stamp of the FMS office where the invitation was issued. A private visa valid for a period up to 90 days may be issued.

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Assistance in arranging a visa invitation

Work Visa Invitation Letter

The employing company is obligated to take care of the work visa invitation, as well as the other permission documents necessary for the foreign person to legally work in Russia.

Read more: Work visa invitation for foreigners

When preparing a work visa invitation, the employer must submit the following documents to the office of the FMS, located at the place of the company's registration: application for a visa invitation, guarantee letter, a copy of the work permit issued to the foreign person and a copy of his/her passport.  

A 90-day work visa may be granted to the foreigner if the invitation as well as the other necessary documents are available. During this period he/she will have to come to Russia and register with the Russian immigration authorities. The employer will then have to extend the employee's work visa before the expiry of his/her work permit. A work visa can be extended for a year, if needed. The number of times a visa can be extended is not limited.

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Assistance in arranging a visa invitation

Study Visa Invitation Letter

This type of invitation is necessary for foreigners who apply for a study visa. It can be obtained on the basis of a letter issued by the educational institution that has enrolled the foreign student based on the results of examination or interview. This type of invitation is valid for up to 1 year. In the event of a successful examination and completion of the course of studies, the institution is expected to extend the student's visa. In this case, the foreign student is not required to leave Russia after his/her visa expires.

Read more: Visa for foreigners to study in Russia

Our specialists can help arrange invitations for a tourist, business, private or work visa. Contact our assistants by phone or email to find out about the time frame and the cost of arranging an invitation.

Arranging a visa invitation to study in Russia

Assistance in arranging a visa invitation

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Tourist Visa - e.g.: tourism, sightseeing;
  • Business Visa - e.g.: conferences, business negotiations;
  • E-Visa - e.g.: short-term visits;
  • Work Visa - e.g.: employment in a Russian company;
  • Private Visa - e.g.: visiting friends in Russia (though a tourist visa is cheaper and more effecient??).

To obtain a Russian visa you need:

  1. Fill in our online order form and get a Visa invitation to Russia
  2. Refer to our Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Russian Visa Application, use your personal data and information from the Invitation to Russia
Visa invitation to Russia is a document which acts as the basis for obtaining a Russian visa. It is also sometimes referred to as visa support.
An invitation may be issued by a licensed Russian-based organization, accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and assigned with a reference number. Invitations can also be arranged by Russian companies or individuals by contacting a local Department of Immigration and Visa Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (OVIR). Invitations may be granted to a foreign person by a travel company, a hosting company or an authorized state body (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation or FMS).
In order to apply for a tourist visa, a foreigner must have an invitation in hand. If the invitation is available, a tourist visa to Russia valid for up to 30 days can be obtained. Such an invitation is issued on the letterhead of a tour operator acting as the inviting party.

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