Get a Russian Visa without Leaving your Home
One of the few downsides of traveling to Russia as a tourist is that you’ll need a visa to enter the country, at least if you hold an American passport or you’re not from one of these countries. How does that saying go? “Everything worthwhile in life takes time.” Or something like that. Well, this is certainly true for visiting Russia. You cannot just jump on a plane and land in Russia for a long weekend without a little planning in advance. And please don’t try just showing up in Russia thinking you’ll get a visa at the border. Unless you have a passport from one of these countries, you cannot get a visa to Russia at the border. But don’t get your hopes down, or I mean, don’t lose hope. In some countries, including the land of the free and home of the brave, you can apply for a visa to Russia online sitting behind your computer, practically. As an American, you can gather all the necessary documents for a visa to Russia from the comfort of your own home and just send them off in the mail for the visa application process. Heck, you can even print out a shipping label at home and a handsome man in uniform (or pretty woman) will pick it up from your doorstep. You’ll just need to find a way to get from your office chair to the front door but I’m sure you can manage that.
Everything worthwhile in life takes time.
Let’s take a closer look at each required document and just how you could potentially apply for a visa without even leaving your home. Visa Invitation Letter/Tourist Invitation VoucherThis literally takes less than 10 minutes to order online as long as you have your passport details, dates of travel, accommodation address and a credit card nearby. You should be able to find a tourist visa invitation for just $20 or less online. You can get one here, for just $15 if you’re going to be applying for a tourist visa. Anyone applying for a Russian visa will need an invitation from a Russian company that is registered with the department of Tourism of Russia or the migration service if you’re applying for a visa other than a tourist visa. On the basis of an official invitation, you’ll be able to receive a visa Visa applicationThis is a form filled out all online here. As long as you have your invitation and ready with your personal details, you should complete this within 30 minutes. The information on your visa invitation should match the answers you give on your visa application. If there is a discrepancy, you could be asked to correct the mistakes, fill it out again or your visa application could be refused. You select the country in which you’ll be applying for a visa, in this case United States, and at the end choose the visa center that will be processing your visa application such as Houston or Washington DC. Next, just verify the information, print out the application and sign it. Passport PhotoFor the sake of this article, you could do this at home. You’d need to make sure the passport photo is quality, however. Although uncommon for tourist visas, if your passport photo is distorted or unclear, you could be asked to send in a better one. Or, you could stop by Costco, Walgreens or another photo shop on your way home from work and pick one up for $5-$15 in a few minutes PaymentIf you use a service to apply for a visa on your behalf, you can either pay the company online or they may request you make a separate payment to the visa center in the form of a cashier’s check or money order. Nowadays, you can get this step done from your online checking account. You wouldn’t even have to make that terribly long 2 mile trip to your nearest bank branch or post office. Original PassportYes, you’ll have to part with your newly issued travel ID, but just for a short time. Your Russian visa will be adhered to one of the blank pages inside. There is no other way. If you’ve had a passport before, you can renew your passport from home within 2-6 weeks. Sending your documents by mail
The final step is collecting all of the above documents, putting them into an envelope and printing off a shipping label to send securely, with a tracking number by mail to a visa center or Russian consulate. Seal the envelope and you’re set to hand it off to the mailman. This should cost you no more than $15 depending on the courier service you choose. If you choose to use our visa submission service, you would send it to our office in Houston, Texas. We’ll apply for your visa on your behalf and your Russian visa will be processed in 3-15 business days depending on which timeframe you select.
Once you’ve sent all the required documents by mail for your visa application to be processed, it’s time to sit back an relax. Return shipping is included in our visa application submission service and with a tracking number, you’ll know exactly where your documents are. Keep in mind that US citizens applying for a tourist visa are very rarely refused a visa to Russia unless, of course, you intentionally submitted suspicious documents or information. Even if you made a minor mistake on your visa application or with your documents, the visa center will request a correction or to send in additional documents. This will add to the overall processing time but that won’t be a problem unless you procrastinated applying for a visa until the week before your flight. In this case, I recommend you check out our post on how to avoid unnecessary costs when getting a visa to Russia.