The Best Way to Get a Russian Visa
If you have decided to travel to Russia, you’re next step will be to obtain a Russian visa. In this article, we will give you some valuable information so you can better decide on how to get a visa to Russia. Don’t worry. It’s not as hard as you might think but there are a few steps you will have to get right.
Russian visa – What documents are required to get one?
Before you start doing anything related to a visa to Russia, make sure you have a valid passport. Your passport needs to be valid for 6 months after your Russian visa will expire. For example, if you have a current passport that ends June 7, 2019, you can get a visa to Russia by December 7, 2018. However, if you would like to apply for a 3-year tourist visa to Russia, you will have to renew your passport. For American citizens, information on passport renewals can be found at https://www.usa.gov/passport.
The first thing you will need is an invitation letter. It is also known as a visa support letter. This invitation letter can be provided by a hotel, travel agencies, your airbnb host, a personal friend or simply ordered online through a Russian tourist company such as travelrussia.su. Usually, they will charge $15 to $50 for providing you with an invitation letter. We also provide these letters as part of our visa application submission service if you do not have one already.
You may get a single or double entry Tourist Invitation, or a single, double or multiple entry Long-Term (business) Invitation. For more information about invitation letters, check our other articles.
In case you are not obtaining an invitation letter from us, be careful not to be “locked” into a period shorter than your actual stay in Russia because of the days you booked in a particular hotel. Many tourist want to see multiple cities and by booking accommodation through one hotel in Moscow, for example, you could be issued an invitation letter only valid for the dates you booked with the hotel in Moscow but not the dates you’ll be in Saint Petersburg. In this case you would need to obtain invitation letters for all dates of your stay in Russia. Instead of going through the hassle of coordinating that with each hotel you want to stay at, it’s better to order one online independent of your hotel.
The next important document you will need in order to apply for a Russian visa is the visa application form. This form can be found on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) website – visa.kdmid.ru and needs to be filled out within 30 days prior to the submission date. They will ask you for some personal information including your passport details, place of work, place of education, what cities you’ll visit in Russia, whether you are affiliated with any professional/charity groups or have served in the military, address you’ll be staying at in Russia, etc. At the end, indicate the location where you will submit your documents and apply for a visa to Russia. After you are done filling it out, print the form, sign it, and glue a good-quality passport picture onto the indicated space.
You will need to become familiar with the associated costs and fees of applying for a Russian visa in order to send the correct payment amount. Invisa Logistic Services LLC is the officially recognized visa center through which the Russian Consulate works. The Russian consulate processing fees for a single entry tourist visa come to $123 ($90 to the Russian consulate and $33 to ILS), assuming you are planning your visa application ahead of time.
Ways to get it done
Now you are ready to submit your documents. At this point, you pretty much have two options:
Option 1 – Apply in Person at a Russian Consulate / Russian Visa Processing Center
Applying in person means that you will have to make at least two separate trips to the ILS office. The first trip will be to submit all your documents. If you don’t need to make any corrections in your documents, you are almost there. ILS will give you a pick-up date that will be your second trip.
If you cannot physically be present to apply at an ILS office, ILS charges a mail-in fee of $85 per applicant. This fee does not include any assistance when gathering the required documents in case you have questions. You can find all the ILS fees at http://ils-usa.com/page/70?domain=5&language=10#tab_130.
Option 2 – Apply through a travel agency
Applying through a travel agency definitely has its benefits. Depending on the company you choose and on the service options they have, you will be more or less guided through the visa process. Anytime questions arise, you can get answers to your questions quicker compared to the official visa center.
So, what’s the best way to get a Russian visa?
The second option in the majority of cases is by far the best way to get a Russian visa in general terms. This is especially true for first time applicants unaware of the visa process. You will not only save time when gathering the required documents, checking whether they match, filling out the visa application but also the worry of getting your documents rejected if they are not correct. You may even make more than two trips to the visa center due to minor inaccuracies of your documents. When you have a specific deadline, this can be extremely frustrating.
With Let’s Russia visa application submission, you can apply at your own convenience, from anywhere in the United States (even abroad) and you will avoid extra fees and Russian bureaucracy. We even offer discounts for groups that no other travel agency offers. Some people may say there is no point referring to a travel agency to get a visa to Russia but they are probably not aware of all the potential hiccups along the way that can delay the process.