Learn more about the family reunion visa in Russia, the Russian spouse visa and the Russian visa for foreign spouses, along with how to contact the Russian visa application centre, so that you can apply correctly.
Certain relatives of foreign nationals living in Russia can travel to join family under Russian family reunion laws but the application process will depend on the immigration status of the family member living in Russia and which visa is being used to enter Russia.
If you want to join family in Russia through Russian family reunion, you will first need to check your country’s visa situation for travelling to Russia. Citizens of most countries need a visa to enter Russia, but those from certain countries – Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries plus a few others – can enter for varying periods visa-free. A list of countries that don’t need a visa to enter Russia can be found here.
The information in this article relates to countries that require a visa to enter Russia (which includes most EU/EFTA countries). If you’re from a country that has a visa-free agreement with Russia, you will need to check with the Russian embassy, Russian visa application centre, or consulate in your home country to find out what the exact situation regarding Russian family reunion is.
This guide to moving to Russia to join a relative or partner includes:
- Which relatives can join residents in Russia
- Joining relatives in Russia with a temporary residence permit
- Joining relatives in Russia with permanent residence or citizenship
- How to apply to join a relative or partner in Russia
- Relatives working or studying in Russia
- Russian family visa costs
- Russian visa application centre(s)
Russian family reunion is generally restricted to spouses and dependent relatives (children and in some cases parents/grandparents). Those who are in Russia temporarily to work, study, carry out business or on a humanitarian visa can be joined or accompanied by spouses or dependent relatives using an Accompanying Family Member visa. This will have to be done via invitation from the individual/organisation that provided the invite to the family member in Russia (e.g. employer, university, etc.) and agreed by the Russian General Directorate of Migratory Affairs (GUVM). It is easier to do this if the relative travels to Russia and enters the country at the same time rather than joins at a later date.
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. Spouses, children and parents of Russian citizens can apply for residence or citizenship in Russia if they meet certain conditions. More information below.
Those who are entering Russia on a Highly Skilled Migrant visa can be joined or accompanied by spouses, children and parents without an invitation needed.
Those who have been granted refugee status in Russia can be joined by family members under Russian family reunification laws.
Relatives of any kind can apply for a Russian Private Visa to join family members in Russia and stay for up to 90 days, if the family member invites them. This will have to be approved by the GUVM.
It is possible to accompany or join relatives in Russia on a temporary residence permit (working, studying, on business, etc.) but this is done through invitation only and is granted at the discretion of the GUVM.
Foreign residents who are living in Russia temporarily on the following visas can apply to be joined or accompanied by spouses or dependent relatives:
- Russian Business Visa
- Russian Humanitarian Visa
- Russian Work Visa
- Russian Study Visa
The application needs to be made at the Russian embassy or consulate in the home country before travelling to Russia. A list of Russian embassies and consulates worldwide can be found here.
If you are granted a Russian family reunion visa by the GUVM to visit someone with temporary residence, it cannot exceed the length of time that the family member you are visiting is staying in the country. You won’t be permitted to work or study in Russia.
Foreign nationals with temporary residence status in Russia can also invite family members of any kind to visit them on a Russian Private Visa. These are valid for 90 days although for US citizens visiting diplomats based in Russia they can be valid for 3 years.
See our article on Russian visas and residence permits for more information on the different types of visa available.
Foreign nationals can apply for permanent residence in Russia after one year and for Russian citizenship after 5 years of permanent residence (shorter in some cases). See our article on Russian citizenship and permanent residency for more information.
Foreign residents with permanent residency in Russia do not acquire any specific additional rights relating to Russian family reunion than those with temporary residence, unless they are in Russia on a Highly Skilled Migrant visa. Spouses and dependent relatives can apply to join family in Russia on an Accompanying Family Member visa, and any relatives can be invited to apply for a Russian Private Visa, but these will be issued short-term (up to 90 days) and it will then be up to the GUVM to decide whether to grant a temporary residence permit or the right to work. If temporary residence is granted, family members will be eligible as normal to apply for permanent residence after one year.
Those wishing to join family members in Russia and stay long-term will need to visit their local GUVM office to get advice. A list of local GUVM branches is available here.
Those in Russia on a Highly Skilled Migrant visa are given a 3 year permanent residence permit upon arrival in Russia and are entitled to be joined by spouses, children and parents who will be granted the same rights. For more information on the Highly Skilled Migrant visa, see our articles on Russian work visas and permits here.
If you have full Russian citizenship, you can be joined by spouses and minor or dependent children through Russian family reunion using the Russian Family Members visa. This is valid for 3 months but those wanting to stay long-term can make an application for temporary residence and will have a stronger case for Russian citizenship.
Those with family members or spouses who are Russian citizens are prioritised by the GUVM for Russian residence permits. The following are eligible for full citizenship without waiting for the full naturalisation process of 5 years:
- those with at least one parent who is a Russian citizen
- those who have been married to a Russian citizen for at least 3 years
- those with disabilities who have a capable child who is a Russian citizen
- children or disabled individuals with a legal guardian who is a Russian citizen
For more information on Russian citizenship and permanent residence, see our articles here.
To apply under Russian family reunion in order to accompany or join a family member in Russia, you will need to contact the Russian embassy or consulate in your home country.
The exact documents required will depend on where you are travelling from but will include:
- completed application form
- 1 passport-sized photo
- proof of relationship to the family member you are joining
- letter of invitation from GUVM
- receipts for payment of fee
- medical certificate to prove that you are clear of HIV (AIDS)
If you are entering Russia on a Private Visa, you will need to provide the letter of invitation from the family member in Russia. If entering on a Family Member of Russian Citizen visa, the relative who is a Russian citizen will need to sign the visa request form.
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 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.
Unless you are joining family in Russia who have entered on a Highly Skilled Migrant visa or are eligible to apply for Russian citizenship through being related to a Russian citizen as detailed above, you will have to apply to the GUVM for a permit to study or work. Russian work and study permits are not easy to obtain, are usually conditional on job or study placement offers and are often restricted by quotas. If you arrive on a Russian Private Visa or are joining a family member who has a temporary residence permit, you will not be able to get a Russian work or study permit.
Russian family reunion visa costs vary from country to country and depending on what visa type you opt for. In the UK, costs are from £165.
There are several centres accross the globe processing family renuion visas and other visas and permits for Russia. These include:
- Russian visa application centre in the Netherlands
- Russian visa application centre in the United Kingdom (UK)
- Russian visa application centre in Belgium
- Russian visa application centre in France
- Russian visa application centre in Switzerland
- Russian visa application centre in Portugal