Getting a visa for Russia is going to be one of the major pain points while preparing for your journey to Russia. The process of getting a visa is cumbersome and there’s a lot of red tape to get through. However, the recent surge in tourism has created trails for everyone to follow and that has certainly removed the guess work from the process. As an Indian passport holder I had to go through a slightly more gruelling visa application process. All the documents submitted for the visa have to be original and it’s compulsory to show reservation of accommodation. I did eventually get the visa after some struggle, but I am certain that the process can be made much easier and less expensive.
There are three main stages of your visa application: Invitation, Application, and Visa Approval
NOTE: Start preparations for your Russian visa at least 1 month prior to your departure.
Entering the Russian Federation requires an invitation from a hosting agency. These are government approved agencies that issue invitations to visitors. This form contains details of the type of visa, duration of stay, places you plan to visit during your stay and your hotel/hostel reservation details.
The invitation typically costs $40 – $350 depending on the type of visa (single entry/multiple entry/tourism/business) you need. Some hotels/hostels offer this service free of charge or at a nominal fee.
Indian passport holders need to order an original copy of the invitation. This will mean extra postal charges for the applicant. Yes. It sucks!
If you’ve gotten this far, you are 70% through. Don’t give up now. Head over to the Russian embassy in your city and submit your application. They usual take 3-6 days to process your application.
Once you have the visa sticker on your passport you are set and good to go. Only in rare cases, your application may be declined. I personally haven’t heard of anyone’s application being rejected if they have provided all the correct documents in the correct form.
Is that it? NOPE. Once you’re there you have to tackle something called the Migration Card!
How the Migration Card works:
All foreigners are supposed to register themselves at the local immigration office on arrival. If you are staying in a hotel/hostel for more than one night, they will do this for you either free of cost or for a nominal fee. You better keep this little slip of paper with you as the border authority at the airport may want to check it when you leave Russia.
Now that you’ve read all of this, you’re good to go.
Here are some resources to know more about the Russian Visa:
Visa Requirements for Indian Citizens
Visa Requirement For U.S Citizens
Russia Tourism Centric Website
Express to Russia (www.expresstorussia.com)
Russian Business Visa (www.russian-business-visa.com)
Russia Direct (www.russiadirect.co.uk)
Visa Able (www.visaable.com)
Way to Russia (waytorussia.net)
Still haven’t got what you want? Leave your query in the comments and I’ll get back to you!