Diary of a Russian Wife

1/01/2007

Russian Visa

In order to travel to Russia (either business, or leisure), you will need a Russian visa. A Russian visa is a special document attached to your passport, that grants you a permit to enter and to leave the Russian Federation during a period of time specified in the visa. Every foreign citizen needs a Russian visa to enter / exit Russia, except nationals of some CIS countries (former USSR without Baltic States).

Russian visa looks like this:

Russian Visa

The process of receiving a Russian visa is pretty straightforward. If you are going to Russia as a tourist – of course you will need a tourist visa. If you are going to Russia on business – you will need a business visa. If you are going to Russia to visit a friend or a Russian woman you correspond with – you can obtain either one of the above.

Confused? Let’s look at the details. To receive a Russian visa, you need an invitation. An invitation is an official document. The type of the invitation will depend on what kind of visa you can obtain. If you are not interested in purchasing one of those Russian tours (which are pricy, but the travel agency will take care of your visa for you), you have 2 options:

Option #1: The person who invites you to come visit Russia will go the local Visa Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia (it’s called OVIR in Russian) and obtain an invitation. It’s very inexpensive (200 rubles = approx. $7), but can take up to 2 months to receive it. After that the original invitation must be mailed to you, and you will include it with your Visa Application paperwork and submit the paperwork to the Russian Consulate.

Option #2. There are numerous organizations that issue business invitations for foreign travelers. They charge between $30-$100 to issue this type of invitation, but it will be ready in a few business days. How to find these organizations? Just Google “business invitation to Russia” or «приглашение для иностранца в Россию».

After you have the invitation, the process is simple:

Step1. Figure out what Russian consulate you should contact. It depends on what state you live in.

The Embassy of the Russian Federation is located in Washington, DC. Also, the Russian Federation maintains Consular Offices in 4 other locations in the US, with each having its own jurisdiction:

The Embassy of the Russian Federation
Main web site
Tourist Visa information

Business Visa information
Jurisdiction: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Consulate General of the Russian Federation in New York
Main web site
Tourist Visa information
Business Visa information
Jurisdiction: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The Consulate General of the Russian Federation in San Francisco
Main web site
Tourist Visa information
Business Visa information
Jurisdiction: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah.

The Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Seattle
Main web site
Tourist Visa information
Business Visa information
Jurisdiction: Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Houston
Main web site
Tourist Visa information
Business Visa information
Jurisdiction: Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas.

Step 2. Read carefully the visa requirements and prepare all paperwork.

Step3. Submit your visa paperwork to the Russian Consulate of your location.

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