Russia requires all U.S. citizens (with a few exceptions) to have a Russian visa to enter and exit the country. You cannot get a travel visa on arrival, so it is very important that you secure your visa before landing in Russia. Without it you will not be allowed to enter the country, and you may be subject to arrest, fines and/or deportation. Russia requires all foreign citizens, including Americans, to have a Russian-based sponsor in order to obtain a visa. Examples of sponsors include hotels, tour companies, relatives, employers and universities. Make sure the sponsor listed on your visa is the same person or organization you are visiting or making your travel arrangements. If not you may have problems with Russian immigration officials. If you need to replace your Russian visa, get an extension or make changes to your visa after you arrive in Russia, your sponsor must apply on your behalf.
Visas for travel in Russia have two dates—the earliest date you are allowed to enter the country and the date by which you must leave the country. Your visa cannot be extended once you are in Russia except for medical reasons. If you stay in Russia for less than three days after your visa expires, you may be able to obtain an exit visa at the airport. However, if you stay for more than three days after your Russian visa expires, you will not be allowed to leave the country until your sponsor requests an extension, which can take up to 20 days. During that time you will have to stay in Russia at your own expense.
If you are traveling to Russia by plane en route to another country, you do not need a visa if you will be in the airport for less than 24 hours and you do not leave the customs zone. In addition, Russia does not require international cruise ship or ferry passengers to have a visa as long as they will be in port for no more than 72 hours. However, if you want to disembark, you must be with an organized tour and licensed tour operator at all times.
Visa requirements vary based on the type of visa you need to obtain (e.g. tourist, business, etc.)
Listed below are items that are required for every type of Russian visa.
A valid U.S. passport with at least two blank visa pages
A completed visa application form
One passport size photo
All applicable visa processing fees
Remember, you will be required to submit additional documentation based on the type of visa for which you are applying. For the most current visa requirements, visit the website of the Embassy of the Russian Federation. It is very important that you secure the appropriate visa required by Russian law based on the purpose of your visit.
Submitting Your Application
Effective July 1, 2011, all applications must be submitted using the Electronic Visa Application Form. After completing the application form online, print, sign, date it and glue your photograph to it. You must submit your application form and all supporting documentation in person at a Russian Embassy or Consulate. You cannot submit your Russian visa application by mail. If you are unable to submit your application in person, you may authorize a third party to do it for you.
Fees and Processing Time
For information about the cost of a visa for travel to Russia, see the chart below. Payment is accepted in the form of a cashier’s check or money order made payable to the Russian Embassy. All processing fees are non-refundable. Please Note: The day you submit your application is not included in the processing time.
3 days processing 4-20 days processing
Tourist Visa single entry or double entry $250 $140
Business visa single entry or double entry $250 $140
Business visa multiple entry $450 $150
Transit Visa single entry or double entry $250 $140
Homestay visa single entry or double entry $250 $140
When you are unable to submit your application in person at a Russian Embassy or Consulate, a visa expediting service like “company name” can help you secure your Russian visa. Professional visa services are experts in the requirements and application process for all types of visas, and they will guide you through the process to ensure your application is processed efficiently. When you contract with a visa service, you will need to send your completed application form and all of the supporting documentation that is required to issue your visa to them. Since even a small mistake on your application can result in a big delay, a representative from the visa service will review your application in its entirety to make sure it is complete and accurate. Then they will take your application materials to the Russian Embassy or Consulate on your behalf. After your Russian visa is issued, they will pick it up and mail it to you. When you work with a professional visa expediter, you can be sure you will have your travel documents when you need them.
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