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Russian Federation to issue three year visas for US citizens 20 September 12

Posted by Jonathan V. Phillips in Visa News.
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In a bilateral agreement, the Russian Foreign Ministry and the US Department of State are now issuing three year business or tourist visas to US citizens visiting Russia and Russian citizens visiting the US. Official statements from both governments are calling this new visa agreement historic. Here are the statements from the White House, the State Department, the  US Embassy in Moscow and the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC.

The agreement, which went into effect on the ninth of September, has caused some confusion for tourist, business and homestay visa applicants as to the exact requirements and procedures needed to apply for the three year multiple entry visa. The Russian consulate has not been very forth coming about the exact procedures and there is still some uncertainty on the exact requirements, but after some testing this past week at the various Russian consulates, we are able to report back on what we believe to the current requirements to get the newly available long term visas.

3 Year Multiple Entry Tourist Visas:

The requirements for the three year tourist visas are basically the same as they were prior to the new agreement. Tourist vouchers are still used because the Russian law requires the invitation be issued from a duly registered Russian entity. The commonly used tourist vouchers have this registration number and are contain all the required details necessary for the visa.

  • Online application (G3’s Concierge Level Service completes the online application for applicants)
  • Passport: Must be signed and have at least three and a half years of validity remaining.
  • A letter from a duly registered Russian tour company or hotel. Standard tourist vouchers that have been used in the past are sufficient.
  • Two color, identical photographs. These are standard passport photos, frontal portrait type pictures.
  • A letter from the traveler to the consulate requesting a three year visa.

3 Year Multiple Entry Business Visas:

The real change that we have seen with these new procedures is the ability to process three year multiple entry visa requests without the need of a formal invitation or telex approval from the Russian Foreign Ministry. All though applicants can still use this common type of invitation for visas, a letter  of invitation from a duly registered Russian company is now accepted as well.   This is a big departure from the past requirements that had been in effect for over twenty years. The new requirements to obtain a three year multiple entry business visas are the following…

  • Online application (G3’s concierge level service completes the online application for applicants)
  • Passport: Must be signed and have at least three and a half years of validity remaining.
  • A business letter of support from the applicant’s company in the US. The letter should identify the traveler by their full name, indicate the company will be financially responsible for the applicant for their time in Russia and request a long term multiple entry visa.
  • Two color, identical photographs. These are standard passport photos, frontal portrait type pictures.
  • A letter of invitation from a duly registered Russian entity.   A duly registered Russian company is one that has a Russian tax identification number. The letter should contain the following details: the Russian business’s tax id number, an invitation number, the organization’s official address, and the full name and position of the individual who signed the document. Complete details about the applicant must be included in the letter: the applicant’s full name as printed in their passport, date of birth, sex, citizenship, and passport number. The letter must also specify the type of visa being requested, the period of stay, location of the applicant’s hotel or residence in Russia and all cities to be visited.

3 Year Multiple Entry Homestay Visas:

These private visas requirements have also been significantly changed from the previous two decades of regulations. Instead of the Izvechenie document issued from the Russian host’s local OVIR in Russia, a personal letter from the host is now accepted as the main document for visa support.  The interesting development is that the letter does not necessarily have to be from a Russian citizen; a US citizen who is in the Russian Federation legally and has the permit to stay in Russia for more than ninety days can also issue the letter.  The requirements for multiple entry homestay visas are the following:

  • Online application (G3’s concierge level service completes the online application for applicants)
  • Passport: Must be signed and have at least three and a half years of validity remaining.
  • Two color, identical photographs. These are standard passport photos, frontal portrait type pictures.
  • A notarized letter from the hosting individual in Russia. The letter should contain the identifying information about the host including the full name as printed in the passport, citizenship, passport number, date of birth and sex as well the host’s registered official address in Russia. The letter should indicate the intended address of stay for the visa applicant as well as an itinerary of cities to be visited in Russia. The letter needs to specify this is a private visa request for multiple entries. Specific details about the applicant such as full name as printed in their passport, date of birth, passport number, and sex should also be in the letter.

Additional items for all visa types:

The Russian consulate has indicated they reserve the right to ask for additional documents on a case by case basis for the new multiple entry three year visas. G3 is recommending to travelers that they should be prepared to submit the following if requested by the consulate for the new visas

  • Proof of insurance abroad. A copy of your US insurance card or special travel insurance that covers the duration of the first trip into Russia will be sufficient to demonstrate this.
  • Proof of funds. A copy of a recent bank statement.
  • Proof of employment. This could come in the form of an employment verification letter for the applicant’s employer stating wages for the last month.
  • Proof of return the USA. There is a multiplicity of documents that could be requested here to demonstrate the traveler’s intention to return to the US. These documents include, but are not limited to a copy of a lease or housing rental agreement, copy of a property tax statement, and or a copy of a marriage certificate.
  • Notarized certificate of the composition of family. This is a notarized document indicating the members of the applicants immediate family, including parents.
  • For minors under the age of 18 these requirements would be from the parents or legal guardians.

There are a few processing changes for these new types of long term visas. The multiple entry three year visas are not processed in a rush manner. Applicants can expect the consulate to take their time with these requests. Current processing is taking about 14 business days to complete. Consular fees are also higher than for single-entry visas.

G3 is monitoring these changes very closely at all the Russian consular offices we work with in the US. We expect some standardization and tweaking of the process as the consulates becomes more accustomed to servicing these multiple entry requests. We are also anticipating a higher level of scrutiny from the consulates on these long term visa requests. The Russian Embassy has advised us that it should not be a surprise if certain applicants are required an interview if deemed necessary. For the time being, applicants who meet can meet the above requirements for the particular visa they are applying for have a reasonable expectation of receiving a long term, three year multiple entry visa.

Since these are new procedures and there are still some grey areas with the process, expect updates. We suspect these protocols to become standardized over the next few weeks, as it appears the Russian consulates are still figuring out how to interpret and implement the new directive from Moscow.  G3 will be communicating these details, as they develop, to our blog, monthly newsletter, our twitter feed and of course our company Facebook page. Russian visa requests can be initiated online directly at G3’s Russia page.

Requests for Russian visa information can be sent directly to our expert staff at Russia@g3visas.com .

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