To move to Russia you are likely to need to complete a Russian visa application form. This guide will provide you with advice on which Russian visa to apply for, how to complete the application form and the costs you can expect to pay.Russian visa policy is quite complicated and has changed in recent years, with stricter controls being brought in to combat issues such as illegal employment and criminality. There are different regulations depending on where you are travelling from, certain procedures that foreigners entering Russia must carry out, and some areas that visitors will not be able to travel to. This guide to Russian visas and permits includes:
- Who needs a Russian visa or permit?
- Types of Russian entry visas
- Applying for a Russian entry visa
- Russian visa costs
- Rules to remember regarding your Russia visa
- Applying for a Russian residence permit
- Work in Russia
- Study in Russia
- Joining a relative or partner in Russia
- Applying for Russian citizenship or permanent residence
Russian visa: Tourist
- This is the standard Russian visa that allows entry as a tourist. It is valid for 30 days and cannot be renewed. To obtain a Russian tourist visa, you must have confirmed accommodation for the duration of your stay in Russia.
Russian visa: Business
- This is a Russian visa for those visiting the country on official or private business. The standard Russian business visa is valid for 90 days. There is also a Multi Russian Business visa which is valid for a year and allows multiple entries into Russia. Unlike the Russian tourist visa, this can be renewed upon expiration but this has to be via the organisation that provided the invitation for your business visa. Russian business visas can also be used for commercial visits such as attending events such as auctions.
Russian visa: Private
- This is a Russian visa valid for up to 90 days based on a private invitation from friends or relatives who are residents in Russia.
Russian visa: Humanitarian
- This is a Russian visa valid for up to a year with multiple entries for those entering Russia for any of the following purposes:
- Cultural purposes
- Purposes related to science
- Political purposes
- Sporting purposes
- Religious purposes
- Charitable purposes
- Delivery of humanitarian aid
Russian visa: Work/Employment
- This is a Russian visa valid for 90 days with the possibility of extension, based only on a work invitation from a Russian company
Russian visa: Student
- This is a Russian visa valid for 90 days with the possibility of extension, based only on a student invitation from a Russian college or university.
Russian Highly Skilled Migrant Visa
- This is a special Russian visa for those in skilled professions who gain employment with a salary of over R1 million (reduced from R2 million in 2015). This visa is valid for three years, enables the holder to bypass the temporary residence permit requirement and entitles relatives including spouses, children and parents to Russian visas.
Family Member of Russian Citizen Visa
- This is a Russian visa for spouses, children under 18 and incapacitated children who are family members of Russian citizens are entitled to a Family Member visa if the relative who is a Russian citizen signs a visa request form. This visa is valid for 3 months.
Russian Transit Visa
- A Russian transit visa is required if you are travelling to somewhere via a Russian airport(s) or through Russia by train. Transit visas are normally valid for a maximum of 3 days for air travel and 10 days for train travel.
- A Russian transit visa is not usually required if you are remaining within an airport transit zone in order to board a connecting flight within 24 hours of arrival. You will need to check with your airline or travel agent to see if you will need to get a transit visa if you are travelling through or via Russia.
Russian Special Purpose Visa
- This is a Russian visa valid for up to 30 days allowing you to attend special events taking place inside Russia.
Areas with restricted access in RussiaThere are currently 18 regions in Russia that contain areas with limited entry for foreign nationals. These are:
- Kamchatka region
- Krasnoryarsk region
- Orenburg region
- Nizhny Novgorod region (permission to travel in transit)
- Republic of Mordovia
- Murmansk region and Karelia
- Arkhangelsk and Komi Republic
- Sverdlovsk region
- Chelyabinsk region
- Leningrad region
- Moscow region
- Kaliningrad region
- Volgograd region
- Astrakhan region
- Chukotka Autonomous District
- Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area
- Republic of North Ossetia
- copy of your passport
- a recent passport-size photograph not older than 6 months
- payment of visa fees
- invitation from the appropriate GUVM branch (if applicable)
- medical insurance
- a certificate confirming absence of HIV infection (if staying longer than 90 days)
- you may also be asked to provide bank statements to show proof of funds for the duration of the visit
- All foreign visitors to Russia are required to register their stay at the local GUVM branch within 7 days of arrival. This will often be done by the organisation or individual who is sponsoring/inviting the visitor but it’s worth checking to ensure this is done. Failure to register with the GUVM can result in a fine and in some cases expulsion from Russia.
- The migration card is the identity document issued to all foreign nationals in Russia at the border and must be presented along with the passport whenever an identity check is required by Russian officials. If you lose your migration card, you need to report it to the nearest GUVM office and you will have to pay for a replacement.
- In addition to allowing entry into the country, your Russian visa also serves as your exit visa. You need to specify the exact day that you will be leaving the country and if you miss this date, leaving Russia could be problematic.
- Visitors who overstay their visa by more than three days will need to apply for an exit visa to leave Russia, which can take up to 20 days to be issued. This can only be overturned if a valid reason (e.g. illness, stolen visa) is presented.
- born in Russia
- citizens of a former USSR country
- have a family member or partner who is a Russian citizen
- made a certain amount of investments in Russia (determined by federal law)
- served in the Russian military
- have had a child born in Russia
- criminal record certificate
- 2 passport photos
- valid entry visa (if required)
- health certificate confirming absence of infectious diseases
- document confirming basic knowledge of Russian language, history and culture