Russia, the world’s largest nation, has surely a lot of sights to offer for every travel bugs out there.
Even with the most popular Saint Petersburg which boasts Russia’s rich culture and arts through the Winter Palace and Church of the Savior and Blood, your trip to Eurasia is a moment of a lifetime.
All thanks to the smooth and easy application process, a Russian visa for US citizens can be applied with no sweat required. If you want to know this process in details, check out this guide.
How to apply for a Russian visa for US Citizen?
Applying for a Russian visa whether it’s for tourism, business, humanitarian, or transit purpose has never been a problem for US passport holders. The system has been smooth and easy ever since some travelers prefer to do it on their own. There are actually three options where to apply for a Russian visa for US citizen.
1. Applying through the Consular Office
This is the most traditional way of applying for a visa and surely a lot of you already know about this. In the US, there’s one Russian Embassy located in Washington and four Consulate Generals specifically in New York, San Francisco, Houston, and Seattle.
These offices process visa applications for US citizens wishing to travel to Russia. Choosing this option will save you a couple of bucks in the visa fees. However, appointment slots are usually fully-booked with these offices.
How much does it cost?
The standard visa fee costs $90. This is the ordinary visa which will be processed for a maximum of 10 days.
2. Applying through the Visa Centers
Due to the overwhelming number of visa applications received by the consular offices, the Visa Centers were established to help lessen the workload. In the US, Visa Centers are managed by the Invisa Logistic Services (ILS).
You can also find Visa Centers in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Houston, and Seattle (where the Consular Offices are also located). Applying through Visa Centers allows walk-in or by appointment.
They also offer services that you cannot find in the Consular Office like photocopying services, visa photos, mail service, and completion of application forms.
How much does it cost?
In total, applying through Visa Centers costs $123. This includes the $33 administrative fee and the standard visa fee of $90.
3. Applying through private agencies
This is the most convenient option but the most expensive. Private agencies will only gather your personal documents (like a passport) and they do all the work for you for a hefty price.
If you have a ton of cash to spare and you don’t have the time to settle the application yourself, this is your best option. Visa HQ is a trusted agency you can rely on. If you choose to use the first two options, let’s move on to the visa process.
For this guide, we will focus on how to apply for a tourist visa to Russia. If this is not what you’re applying for, don’t worry the process is basically the same. Only the requirements differ.
How to apply for a Russian tourist visa in the US?
To give enough time for the application process, you can start applying at least a month from your intended travel date. If nothing unexpected happens during the time of your application, your visa will be granted within two weeks or less.
1. Gather the requirements
Start gathering the following requirements: Valid passport- This must be valid for at least six months after your departure from Russia and it must have at least two blank pages.
2×2 colored photo with a white background.
Travel itinerary- This is a copy of your roundtrip plane ticket reservation and a brief list of the cities/activities you’re planning to visit/do including the hotels/address you will be staying.
Letter of invitation or visa support- These documents are issued by a Russian entity (a person, institution, hotel, or company) stating that they wish to invite you. If you are staying in a hotel, you will most likely be given the visa support document which contains two parts:
Tourist Services Contract or tourist voucher
Foreign Tourist Reception Confirmation or confirmation letter
Travel insurance – US citizens are not required to purchase travel insurance but it would be better if you have one during your trip.
2. Fill up the application form
You can fill out the application form electronically here and make sure to double-check the information you added in the form. You can also complete your form on another day so be sure to save the Application ID number. You will need this to access your form instead of starting a new application.
In the “Visit Details” field, supply the details found in your visa support. If you have multiple visa support, use the one from the first city you will be visiting.
3. Print the form
After filling out the form, print it then sign and attach a photo.
4. Bring your documents to the Consular Office or Visa Center
You have to schedule an appointment and apply personally if you’re applying through the consular office. You can book an appointment using this site.
On the other hand, Visa Centers accept walk-in applicants. Simply bring your documents to the nearest visa center. You can also book an appointment using the same site. If you prefer to mail your documents instead, you can avail of the Visa Center’s Mail Order service which you can read in full details here.
5. Wait for your visa
The waiting process is really the most nerve-wracking period in every visa application but doesn’t worry… getting a Russian visa is fast if only you made sure to provide the complete requirements.
If your visa application is successful, don’t forget to get your immigration card at the passport control and ask your hotel to register your visa within 7 days upon your arrival in Russia. Lastly, make sure to carry the immigration card with you all the time.