3-Year Russian Visa Application Requirements and Tips
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3-Year Russian Visa Application Requirements and Tips

 

Applying for a Russian visa can be time consuming and rather expensive for U.S. citizens, but on September 9, 2012 it got better for anyone who may be going more than once to Russia in a 3-year period: you can now get a 3-year, multiple entry Russian visa.

That means, for anyone flying Singapore Airlines via Moscow Domodedovo (DME), you can actually spend some time in Moscow rather than just staying airside. Now, some may still not want to, whether due to irrational fears of the Russian mafia, worries about grappling with the language, or practical concerns about expense (and central Moscow is expensive). But where's you're sense of adventure? It's an amazing, vibrant capital city, where I thoroughly enjoyed living and working a couple years. So having been through the process, here are my tips for getting the new 3-year multiple entry Russian tourist visa:

RUSSIAN TOURIST VISA REQUIREMENTS

Here's what you really need when applying for a 3-Year Multiple Entry Russian Visa as a U.S. citizen:

1. U.S. Passport Valid for at Least 6 Months Past the Visa Date

Does your passport expire in less than 3.5 years? You can still get a multiple entry visa, but it will just be good for the life of your passport, less 6 months. So, for example, if your passport expires in 2.5 years, your Russian Visa would be valid for 2 years.

2. 2 Passport Photos

Many print and copy shops in NYC offer passport photos even cheaper than the U.S. Post office, and with less of a wait. Check Yelp and call ahead to make sure.

3. Online Russian Visa Application

Complete the Russian Visa Application form online at evisa.kdmid.ru

  • Register
  • Make sure to save your "Declarant" number and password: these are assigned, so not at all intuitive, and you'll need them to access your saved application. You may even need them at the Invisa Logistic Services office if there's something in your application that needs to be amended
  • Login 
  • Page 1 is straightforward: purpose of visit, visa type, dates
  • Page 2 is your name and citizenship, also straightforward
  • Page 3 is your passport info
  • Page 4 is where you'll need to enter your visa support info from the hotel. You'll need to enter both the name of the tourist company (which may differ from the brand name of the hotel) and both the tourist company reference number and the confirmation number. Hence, to fill this section of the online form out, you first need a hotel reservation and to request visa support from the hotel. Or, you could get an invitation from Way to Russia or similar, if you need to apply for a visa before you know where you'll be staying.
3-Year Russian Visa Application Requirements and Tips
 
  • Page 5 asks for your home and work addresses
  • Page 6 asks if you have medical insurance valid in Russia, and the document number. To be on the safe side, I did get health insurance specifically valid for Russia, since I didn't want to chance a delay over this, but neither Invisa Logistic Services or the Russian Consulate even asked about my documentation. So if your regular work health insurance covers you while in Russia, you should be fine and not need to get any kind of supplementary health insurance.
  • Page 7 is marital status and spouse info
  • Page 8 asks about your parents' names. Don't worry about "patronymic" since only Russians and people in the countries of the former Soviet Union have them. Just as it sounds, it's formed from the father's name, e.g. if you're a man named Alexei and your father was Ivan, your patronymic would be Ivanovich; if you're a woman, it would be Ivanovna.
  • Page 9 is the most time consuming if you travel a lot, since it asks for ALL the countries you've visited in the last 10 years and the date of visit. Good luck with that! Just do the best you can from memory and your passport. On the lower part of the page, don't forget to put "United States" and any other countries which have issued you a passport.
  • Pages 10-11 are prior workplaces
  • Pages 12-13 are prior educational institutions
  • Page 14 asks about membership of "professional, civil, and charity institutions" and right underneath (rather disconcertingly lumped together) asks "Do you have any special skills, training or experience related to firearms, explosives or to nuclear matters, biological or chemical substance?" Hopefully you  can answer no to that question, and note that while you should of course be truthful, it's not such a plus from the Russian Consulate's perspective to answer yes to even the first question.
  • Page 15 asks about military service and whether you've been in armed conflict.
  • Page 16 asks the miscellaneous questions about whether you've ever been refused a Russian visa, stayed past your visa expiration date, have a communicable public health disease, etc.
  • Page 17 asks about prior Russian visas and their dates
  • Page 18 asks the hotel or other addresses where you plan to stay. As far as I know it's not binding, so if you got invitation support from Way of Russia or similar, just put down a hotel or other address you're considering staying at
  • Page 19 asks about relatives residing in Russia
  • Page 20 asks if you personally completed the Russian Visa application
  • Page 21 is a space for notes (if someone else completed the application on your behalf)
  • Page 22 asks you to confirm your appointment date and location. Make sure to select "ILS [City name]" and not just the city name, since all Russian visa applications are now being processed by ILS.

 

4. Hotel Reservation for at Least the First Day of the Visa

Note that if you want to use hotel visa support for your visa application, you MUST have a hotel reservation for the first day you need the visa to start from, i.e. your first day in Russia. If, for example, you're planning to take an overnight train that first night, you should instead opt for a tourist invitation from Way to Russia or similar, because ILS and the Russian Consulate will NOT grant you a visa starting from a date that you don't have a tourist company number and confirmation number for. 

On the other hand, because of the 3 year visa, you DON'T have to worry about hotel reservation visa support for subsquent dates during your stay. You can figure those out later, you just must have support for that first day your visa is valid from.

 

5. Visa Support Confirmation from the Hotel, Including Tourist Company Number and Confirmation Number

After you make your hotel reservation, request visa support. My experience with the hotels I requested it from is that it was very fast, and I received it within 24 hours of requesting, but these were also 4-5 star hotels. I wouldn't leave it to the last minute, in case there is any kind of delay.

Also note: by getting visa support from a hotel, you are committing to stay at the hotel. Hotels that provide visa support generally have you agree that, if you end up cancelling the reservation, you'll owe them money for the visa support. So if you don't want to be bound in this way, just go with a normal Russian visa invitation service, as the fee is usually a bit cheaper, although it also tends to take longer.

Russian Visa Application Requirements - Tourist Company Number and Confirmation Number

 

6. Fee of $235

Note that you *cannot* pay by credit card or personal check; you must pay with cash, bank transfer, money order or cashier check ONLY (payable to the Invisa Logistic Services LLC). While the chart says $210 for an in person application, there is also a $25 additional review fee for 3-year visas, bringing the total to $235.

 

The Russian Consulate may also request the following, but none of them were needed for my application:

- a bank statement from the applicant;

- a statement from the employer regarding the applicant’s wages for the preceding year, half year or month; 

- medical insurance valid in the country to be visited and fully covering the period of the first trip;

- documents regarding the applicant’s ownership of property in the country of his citizenship;

- a certificate on the makeup of the applicant’s family.

 

APPOINTMENT WITH INVISA LOGISTIC SERVICES

You should schedule your appointment about a month in advance of when you need the Russian visa. There are ILS offices in Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, Houston and Seattle. See ILS addresses and maps

At the appointment, they'll pull up your submitted online application, review it to ensure it's complete, print it out and affix your passport photos, and then provide you with an invoice that you take to the cashier and pay with cash or money order. The pickup date and time are on the invoice, and you'll need to bring the invoice with you, so don't lose it.

 

INTERVIEW AT RUSSIAN CONSULATE

For most applicants for 3-year visas (and even some single entry visas) there is an interview at the Russian Consulate. In NYC, they tell you to show up at 2pm, but I'd recommend getting there earlier, as when I arrived around that time there was already a line (not just visa applicants though, Russians also). At least in NYC, make sure you dress appropriately for standing outside given the weather. Eventually you'll be ushered inside, go through a metal detector....and wait some more in a seating area, until pointed to a row of 4 chairs across from 2 Russian Consulate officials. The actual conversation was quite brief in my case. He did ask for a copy of the hotel reservation, which I didn't have in printed form, so he asked me to email it. 

Russian Visa Application Requirements - Russian Consulate New York

 

PICKUP RUSSIAN VISA AT INVISA LOGISTIC SERVICES

Actually picking up my passport, with Russian Visa inside, was mercifully fast, but perhaps too anticlimactic. You almost feel that you should be offered a vodka toast after all this...perhaps some drinks at Mari Vanna are in order!

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Comments
Picture?type=large Thomas L. commented 07 Jun 2013
hi. i am going thru the process now. please tell me how long you had to wait to pick up your visa after the interview
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 07 Jun 2013
Thomas, I believe it was about 1 week or so from my apt. with Invisa, but the exact pickup date was in any case clearly stamped on my paid invoice--the interview at the Russian Consulate had no bearing on the pickup date (though of course if I hadn't "passed" it would have) so it's the Invisa pickup date that matters. Good luck!
Picture?type=large Eric L. commented 26 Feb 2015
Hi hilary. I recently received my 3 year tourist visa and just had a quick question. when going through passport control is it basically the same process as when having a single entry visa? I will have my passport/visa, hotel confirmation and flight itinerary for returning home. I just want to be sure that's all I need and there's nothing else, as that's the way it was when using a single entry visa...I've had 2 single entry visas in the past. if you could shed a little more light on the process I'd appreciate it!
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 26 Feb 2015
Eric, there's usually a migration card you fill out as well, where you give passport control one half and keep the other half to provide upon departure. This is for both single entry and 3 year visas, and yes, as far as I'm aware, no differences in terms of procedure for clearing passport control. Have a great trip!
Picture?type=large Eric L. commented 26 Feb 2015
that's what i figured, and yes i remember the migration card of course. and my last question is each time you return is it just the same exact thing? just have the passport/visa, hotel confirmation and itinerary? i know with single entry they stamp the visa for entry and departure so that as well i wasn't sure about with the 3 year visa.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 26 Feb 2015
Yes, you wouldn't need anything more than the passport/visa, migration card, hotel confirmation and departing flight details. Not sure about the stamping system with the 3 year visa, since unfortunately I didn't get back to Russia before my passport expired...
Picture?type=large Eric L. commented 26 Feb 2015
and i'm pretty sure each time you go over there you'll receive a new migration card, forget who gives it to you...but ok, that's what i thought was the process, same as single entry. thank you so very much for your help!
Picture?type=large Ken M. commented 05 Sep 2016
I have a question about #1 in your article. Today 9/5/2016, I am applying for a 3-year Russian visa. However, my passport expires on 11/2018. Should I still apply for the 3-year? What information do you have that indicates it'd be no problem and my Visa would only be good through May 2018? Thanks so much.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 05 Sep 2016
Ken, please see the Dept. of State's Russia page noting that your passport should be valid at least 6 months beyond your intended stay in Russia: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/russia.html. I recommend applying for a multiple entry visa unless you're absolutely sure you won't need to enter the Russian Federation more than once before your passport expires. Sometimes clients, even on a single trip, opt to visit one or more of the Baltic countries or Scandinavia while visiting Russia, then enter Russia again for their departing international flight.
Picture?type=large Dillon M. commented 11 Oct 2016
Hi Hilary, Thank you for the informative article. I have a few questions and am wondering if you can perhaps help. I am a U.S. citizen living in Germany and would be applying at the embassy in Berlin. On their website, it states that all tourist visas are single entry (only double-entry in cases of leaving and reentering Russia by transiting through a third country e.g. Kazakhstan), is it definitely possible to get a multiple entry visa still? I am also wondering about the reasons for granting a multiple-entry visa. I assume I have to plan at least three trips to Russia and list the dates of those trips on the application form in order to qualify for a multiple entry visa? Lastly, on the first page of the application, it asks for visa validity, I should therefore put the date I am planning my first trip as the start and a date exactly three years after in the future? I hope I am being clear enough in my line of questioning. Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 11 Oct 2016
Dillon, you should be able to apply abroad for the 3 year multiple entry Russian visa; I would call the embassy in Berlin to verify. The application (at least the one I've filled out in the U.S.) does not require you to list future trips beyond the initial one you're planning for. Yes, be sure to put the earliest date you would conceivably need to be in Russia for the current trip you're planning.
Picture?type=large Dillon M. commented 13 Oct 2016
Hi Hilary, Thank you very much for the quick response. Let me rephrase my last question. On the first page of the application form, it asks me for the date I would enter Russia (earliest concievable date) and the date I would be leaving Russia. Do I put the date I will be exiting on my initial trip or do I put a date exactly three years after the entry date as I want the three year visa? How else would they know that I wish to have the 36 month visa rather than a standard 30 day tourist visa? From what I can see, there is no special check box for it, I can only select "Tourist Visa" and "Multiple Entry". Thanks again for your help.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 13 Oct 2016
Before you complete everything, I would verify with the embassy in Berlin that they process the 3 year visa there--they should, but the applications I've done have all been in the U.S. and used ILS. I recommend contacting the Berlin office of ILS, see http://www.vhs-germany.com/main.php?id=contact1&lang=ru to double check that they can help with a 3 year visa. The exit date is the exit date for your first trip, but again, I would check with ILS that you can get the 3 year visa in Berlin before you start the lengthy application process.
Picture?type=large Christopher K. commented 09 Jan 2017
Hello Hilary, I have a few questions my upcoming visit to St Petersburg RU. My girlfriend whom lives in SPB is about to draw up my invitation, I have already received my passport, and I plan on applying for a 3 year multiple Entry Private Visa. We have been in a long distance relationship for a long time, and my question is.. Once my 180 days is up for my first visit, do I HAVE to come back to the US and the second part of this question is, how long do I have to leave Russia before I can re enter? I am planning to marry her, and want to become a resident at some point. I have been told that depending upon my reason for re entering Russia, I do not necessarily have to come back to the US I can simply leave for say "one week" and re enter into Russia. I am trying to avoid the expensive flight back to the US and time away from my loved one for too long to fly back to Russia for another 6 month stay. Any information you can help to provide me on maximizing my stay in Russia on my 3 year multiple entry Private visa would be greatly appreciated. I was also told by someone else I have to leave for 180 days before I can re enter Russia again. Is there any truth to this? If we can perhaps converse through a private message to discuss in more detail I would be happy to do so. Thank you for your time.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 09 Jan 2017

Christopher, as I run a luxury travel company I'm not expert in how long you can be out of Russia, with the 3 year multiple entry visa, before returning for another 180 days, since my clients aren't staying for as long as you plan to. I see "1 calendar day" referenced here: https://moscow.usembassy.gov/russian-visas.html I recommend checking with ILS whether this is indeed the case. See http://ils-usa.com/main.php?id=contact1&lang=en

Picture?type=large Christopher K. commented 17 Feb 2017
Hilary thank you for responding to my prior question. I have found the answers to the questions I asked you. Although now that I have my passport, invitation, and have filed my application for my visa, all my papers were in order and my questions answered properly. They contacted me when they received my packet in the mail and asked me to provide a bank statement and round trip ticket information. However, I do not have a bank account of any sort and I have not purchased my tickets until I knew I was approved for the visa (which seems to only make sense) they told me to just write a letter explaining that I do not have a bank account and why I haven't purchased an airline ticket yet.. My question is, can I be denied for not having a bank account? and for not having purchased my airline ticket before approval?
Picture?type=large Kris A. commented 03 Mar 2017
Hello. I was given a 3- year visa last year when I took the Transiberian. I plan to visit again this year. Do I still need an invitation every time I visit within the 3 years? Thank you for your assistance.
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