Russia Tourist Visa Requirements - Travel Visa Application Services for Russia Tourist Visa, Student Visa, Business Visa

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World Travel Guide - Travel Visa Application Services for Russia Tourist Visa, Student Visa, Business Visa

Travel Essentials - The first step in planning your tripTourist Visa Requirements - Travel Visa Services

Travel Essentials - Tourist Visa Requirements - Travel Visa Services

Russia Visa Requirements - How to Apply for Russia Travel Visa

The Cold War ended almost 2 decades ago, and since then, more and more Americans have chosen to visit Russia. However, Russia's travel regulations can present a significant obstacle for Americans who wish to enter the country. To travel to Russia, American citizens need both a valid US passport and a Russian visa. Unfortunately, navigating the Russian visa system can be a little bit tricky - even the US Department of State's website calls it "restrictive and complicated."

The Russian government maintains a restrictive and complicated visa regime for foreigners who visit, transit, or reside in the Russian Federation. A U.S. citizen who does not comply with Russian visa laws can be subject to arrest, fines, and/or deportation. Russian authorities will not allow a U.S. citizen traveler with an expired visa to depart the country until a new visa is approved, which may take up to 20 days. Please be sure to leave Russia before your visa expires!

Sponsorship: Under Russian law, every foreign traveler must have a Russian-based sponsor, which could be a hotel, tour company, relative, employer, university, etc. Even if you obtained your visa through a travel agency in the United States, there is still a Russian legal entity whose name is indicated on your visa and who is considered to be your legal sponsor. Russian law requires that your sponsor apply on your behalf for replacement, extension, or changes to a Russian visa. You should ensure that you have contact information for your visa sponsor prior to arrival in Russia, as the sponsor’s assistance will be essential to resolve any visa problems.

Russia Entry Visas: To enter Russia for any purpose, you must possess a valid U.S. passport and a visa issued by a Russian embassy or consulate. You cannot obtain an entry visa upon arrival, so you must apply for your visas well in advance. U.S. citizens who apply for Russian visas in third countries where they do not have permission to stay for more than 90 days may face considerable delays in visa processing. If you arrive in Russia without an entry visa you will not be permitted to enter the country, and could face immediate return to the point of embarkation at your own expense.

A Russian entry/exit visa has two dates written in the European style (day/month/year) as opposed to the American style (month/day/year). The first date indicates the earliest date a traveler may enter Russia; the second date indicates the date by which a traveler must leave Russia. A Russian visa is only valid for those exact dates and cannot be extended after the traveler has arrived in the country, except in the case of a medical emergency.

Russian tourist visas are usually granted only for the specific dates mentioned in the invitation letter provided by the sponsor. U.S. citizens sometimes receive visas valid for periods as short as four days. You may wish to have someone who reads Russian check the visa before departing the United States. Please ensure that your visa reflects your intended activities in Russia (e.g., tourism, study, business, etc.) If you are denied a visa, you may seek clarification from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 32/34 Smolenskaya-Sennaya Pl., Moscow, Russia, 119200, e-mail.

Limitations on Length of Stay in Russia: Most foreigners may remain in the Russian Federation for only 90 days in a 180-day period. These provisions apply to business, tourist, humanitarian, and cultural visas, among other categories. U.S. citizens and other foreigners whose visas permit employment or study are not normally subject to this rule. Any person contemplating a stay in Russia of more than 90 days should consult with his or her visa sponsor to ensure that remaining in Russia will not result in a violation of Russian visa regulations.

Russia Exit Visas: A valid visa is necessary to depart Russia. If you overstay your visa validity by no more than three days you may be granted an exit visa at the airport (at the discretion of the Russian Consular Officer). If you overstay your visa by more than three days, you will be prevented from leaving until your sponsor intervenes and requests a Russia visa extension on your behalf. Russian authorities may take up to 20 calendar days to authorize an exit visa, during which time you will be stranded in Russia at your own expense.

You may also have difficulty checking into a hotel, hostel, or other lodging establishment in Russia if you have an expired Russian visa. Be sure to leave Russia before your Russia tourist visa expires.

If you lose your U.S. passport and Russian visa by accident or theft you must immediately replace your passport at the U.S. Embassy or one of the Consulates General. You must then enlist the assistance of your visa sponsor to obtain a new Russia visa in order to depart the country. It is helpful to make a photocopy of your Russia visa in the event of loss, but a copy is not sufficient to permit departure.

Travel visas for students and English teachers sometimes allow only one entry. In these cases, the sponsoring school is responsible for registering the visa and migration card and obtaining an exit visa. Obtaining an exit visa can take up to 20 calendar days, so students and teachers need to plan accordingly.

Migration Cards: U.S. citizens entering Russia must fill out a two-part migration card upon arrival. You should deposit one part of the card with immigration authorities at the port of entry, and keep the other part for the duration of your stay. Upon departure, submit your card to immigration authorities. You may also be required to present your migration card in order to register at hotels.

Migration cards are available at all ports of entry from Russian immigration officials (Border Guards). The cards are generally distributed to passengers on incoming flights and left in literature racks at arrival points. Officials at borders and airports usually do not point out these cards to travelers; it is up to the individual travelers to find them and fill them out. Replacing a lost or stolen migration card is extremely difficult. While Russian authorities will not prevent you from leaving Russia if you cannot present your migration card, you could experience problems when trying to re-enter Russia at a future date.

Although Russia and Belarus use the same migration card, each country maintains its own visa regime. U.S. citizens wishing to travel to both nations must apply for two separate visas. If you enter Russia directly from Belarus you are not required to obtain a new migration card.

Also, Russia is very strict about the start dates and end dates on the visas they issue. As soon as you receive your Russian visa, make sure those dates are correct. Russia will not let you enter the country before the start date on your visa, nor will they allow you to stay even one day past the expiration date.

Many travelers opt to use a professional visa service company to avoid visa hurdles. When you turn to a professional tourist visa service you simply need to complete a service application and forms that they present you. These services will then take the necessary steps needed to obtain the tourist visa for you. When using these types of services you don't have to worry about the legal process and can simply sit back and wait for your Russia visa to be approved. If you need to get a visa to Russia quickly, you can order your Russia visa from visa professionals for prices starting at $39.

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Source: U.S. Department of State

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