just a few questions for all the well travelled guys on the forum who have been to russia.
1.the lady i will be visiting has applyed for my invitation,still waiting after two weeks.is it safe to book my flight before i receive an invitation? with the flight being 880 euros i dont want to lose that amount of money if i'm refused entry.
2.has anyone here ever been refused an invitation to enter russia?
3.i presume the russian intelligence will check you out before you enter the country?
buy a ticket with insurance(meaning not the cheapest seats)
trying to think of my invitations,,,
through the net maximum 30 minutes.
the girl applying for the invitation was rather a fuck around with time, some weeks from memory.
i just remembered i did it this way for visa stuff, proof of relationship for when she comes to NZ.
also its easier to get yourself registered in those out of the way places doing it this way to(you have to register when there when in one place for more then 4 days from memory(your girl will be onto this, its the other part of her registering you)
never heard of someone ever refused, its just a registeration and money thing with the invitation.
your refusement would be at the visa application side(that has changed for some now to)
I visit Russia often, though I've been too cowardly to venture into the deep cold, so I didn't answer your first post. It would help if you'll tell us which country issued the passport you'll be traveling on: the rules vary by country.
Also, what is your lady's city? And how long are you planning to stay in Russia?
1. Without knowing these answers, I can say that in general, it's more convenient to use a tourist or business visa, than a private-stay visa. One reason is the hassle she is now going through with the paperwork in Russia. The other types of visas also require "official invitations," but there are plenty of visa service companies that can provide these to anybody for a reasonable fee (I know it may sound a bit off, but it is Russian System). For example, an invitation will appear from a hotel you've never heard of and will never see.
It is absolutely more correct to use a private stay visa, but many travelers to Russia find that the following all the rules is both impractical (or simply impossible), and unnecessary.
Anyway, now she has begun, you can order your air tickets. If something goes wrong with the private-stay invitation, she can always apply for a tourist visa. Usually (but this depends on your nationality) you can pay a big premium and get a visa in a couple of days, but in any case you can do this within 3 weeks -- so if nothing has come through by early December, you have a fallback plan.
2. To my knowledge, it is rare to be refused a visa. When people do have problems, it is usually after the visa application, not in getting an invitation. I always use a visa service company (rather than applying directly to a Russian consular office) -- these companies have lots of experience, and it relieves me of worry about missing something out.
Though I have only read one story about this, if a Russian consular office has concerns about a visa application, they may require the applicant to come visit them to discuss the irregularity. The likely reasons for this would be if you broke certain laws or regulations on a previous visit to Russia (not applicable to you), or if there is some inconsistency in your paperwork (for example, a conflict between the invitation and the visa application).
Depending on your nationality (passport country), you may be required to show evidence of medical insurance acceptable to the Russian consulate.
3. I have no information about your "intelligence" question. I suspect that the checking is minimal, but I wouldn't be surprised if they have some list of names of undesirables (presumably based on activities affecting Russian interests). So for example if you are an international human rights activist, or have business dealings in Georgia, or are yourself an intelligence officer, perhaps your application would come under special scrutiny.
BTW Durak....I think you can only apply for visa through service company now. Also, the new visa process of longer stays is not being chosen by russian officials, they are 'choosing to give' the old 30 day tourist visas still.
The process for getting a Russia visa depends on (A) which country issued the passport you intend to use for Russian travel, and (B) in which country you intend to make the application. (Generally, it is necessary to apply for a Russian visa in your home country, but there are exceptions.)
It's true that the Russian consulates in serveral countries have been moving in the direction of outsourcing visa processing to private companies, and that the consulates in the USA are now doing so, using a company called Invisa Logistic Services. But even if you use ILS, you still need an invitation, and there are numerous travel companies that can help with that.
However, I don't know russsianbear's country. He gave the airfare in Euros, so I guess he may not be a US citizen.
About the 36 month visas (I think that's what you meant) -- they have been available (to US citizens only) for about 9 weeks now. If you have information about any US citizen who applied for such a visa and was not granted it, please post or pm the details to me: I'm very interested in this topic, and will follow it up.
thanks for your help durak and beemer.the lady i have met comes from novosibirsk siberia.i'm from the north of the uk.i really enjoy reading this forum and admire and respect you guys for the challenges you take to find that special lady.the lady is a lovely lady with a great personality and very attractive for her age 51.i'm 53,wet met on an asian dating site,became good friends and finally arranged to meet last month in cyprus.when i first saw here i couldn't believe she didn't have a boyfriend being tall, blonde and slim!she told me that in russia she is classed as an old woman at 51,also there are so many educated beautiful unattached women from 35-55 age group without men.she has 4 really nice friends that i have seen so far that are all single.sounds the complete oppisite to the uk.
@Durak....I know of no one or anyone on another forum I frequent knows of anyone, that has actually received the 3 year visa....only the 30 day visas have been issued. Many I know use travisa for visa service and invitation letter.
Durak, maybe you would be interested in reading an interesting journal about russia, He is a contributor to some forums. I hope this enlightens your already wealth of knowledge!! http://russianreport.wordpress.com
You are right about not knowing bear's country. I only spoke of USA. At price of 880 euros, seems this would be a long flight!!
Well, your information has prompted me to do some searching, where I got hits on a few forums. What I found so far:
* confusion in every corner, about the new visa regime
* one guy who applied for a 3-year and got a 1-year (he didn't say, but I suppose it must have been a business visa)
* two guys who have gotten the 3-year visa (one posting on 17 October, the other on 30 October)
All of the official information (Russian Embassy and consular websites) is very clear and categorical about the 36 month visas. As crazy as Russian affairs are in general, in my limited experience, the information on the consular websites has been accurate in previous years.
One very cool thing for Russia nuts, about the new visas: the old limit of 90 days out of 180 consecutive days is gone. They are good for stays of up to 182 days, without any restriction on time between visits: in theory, you could go a land frontier crossing, walk out through passport control, and go right back into Russia. For those Americans who are so far gone they want to live there ... it is now more convenient! (Until now, the way to "game the system" was to get a succession of 6-month business visas, having to leave Russia every 6 months to get a new visa).
I'm not quite sure what I'll do when my current visa expires -- my passport has less than 2 years to run. Probably I'll renew my passport early, so I can luxuriate in a 3-year Russian visa. Anyway, I'll post how it works out when the time comes.
Rick, you have got 3 year tourist visa? If so, was the invitation letter you used different than one used for 30 day visa. I have heard many different stories. And was price same for the two visas( 3year vs 30 day)? I would have bet the price would increase because the amount of visas would decline!!!
I think I can answer beemer's questions, at least in part.
Invitation: The official description of required paperwork sounds very imposing, but according to one of the forum posts I found yesterday, it was like the tourist invitation of old, no big deal. I always use visa service companies, who obtain the invitations for me as part of the package (about which more below).
Price: In each US city with a Russian consulate (or in the case of DC, the consular office of the Russian embassy), is an office of ILS, the company to which they outsourced visa processing. If you go in person to the ILS office, the fee is $210. If you do the process by mail, they add $65 more, for a total of $275.
Though I live not far from New York City, I use visa service companies, because the two trips into the city would cost me nearly two business days (plus at least $60 in tolls and parking). One of the nice things about the visa service companies I've used is that they handle the invitations as well: less hassle, and less things that could go wrong.
Using this full-package visa service, for years I paid around $200 for 30-day tourist visas. When I started going for 12 month business visas (with unlimited entries), I was paying $400 to $600. It's a good deal if you visit Russia frequently. To get the lowest price, you have to be without your passport for 5 weeks! So I sometimes paid more to not be grounded for such a long time.
The company I usually use (website gotorussia.net -- they've taken excellent care of me) charges $319 for the 36-month visa, including the tourist invitation (basically, they charge $44 for the invitation, extra shipping, and their labor). They list the time as 13 business days, to account for the extra back-and-forth between their office and the consulate. So, including Fedex from my house to the travel company, for about $350 I can get a 3-year visa within 3 weeks. That is a helluva improvement!
Thanks for the info Durak. Most of the people I know use travisa but others do use gotorussia, in fact I used them a couple times a few years back. Let us know your experience when you get the new visa!! Hopefully it will be 'no big deal'.
I see the Russian Visa nightmare continues.
I can't believe what I'm reading here... 3 year visas ?
A few hundred dollars ?
I'm in New Zealand. This year when I applied for a visa (business)3 months, because riding my motorcycle from Vladivostok to Rostov na Donu ... Well I wanted a little more than 30 days. But NO, Visa was refused because 'Visa to russia.com' listed the cities I was visiting as Mosco and St Petersburg. But I had on my Itinary completely different cities. So I re applied and got a 30 day tourist visa.
Also as a requirement I had to have pre booked and paid for several hotels costing about 1000 Euros. I paid several hundreds to various travel agents to book hotels.
I did not stay at any of them because I got ahead of my schedual.
I also paid double the price for my flights because I had to have as another visa requirement 'A letter from travel agent' stating I had return tickets, even though I exited Russia by road ! into Ukraine. The return ticket was wasted too.
I lost count but about $7500 NZD that is about $6000 USD just to get the visa.
I'm sorry to read about your ordeal. Unfortunately, you might not have had the right advice and assistance. Your plan to use a 3-month business visa is what I would have recommended.
Because Russia's requirements vary depending on your country, what works in one place may not work in another. For US citizens, it isn't necessary to show an itinerary, air tickets, or what have you.
In practice, nobody checks that you are where you said you would be -- for example, with a business visa for a trip to Moscow, a person could roam across the Russian Federation (as far as I have learned) without difficulty. Perhaps a really knowledgeable visa service company could have made this much easier and cheaper for you.
The nightmare, as you say, is tough to navigate on your own -- Russia has a LONG way to go, to become user-friendly for visitors.
cant thank you guys enough for enough for all your help.appologies for what seemed to be strange questions about entry to russia.i have a lady friend who has travelled most of the world.she was refused entry to russia for some reason unbeknown to her!they never did tell her why she was refused entry.my guess is because she is high up in the british army...lt colonel?