A Russian Visa

Does a Russian or Ukrainian citizen need a visa to visit the USA?

– Most definitely! More information is at this link for the US State Department. http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html

Does a citizen of the USA, Canada, UK, Mexico need a visa to visit Russia or Ukraine?

– Russia: most definitely. More information is available on this page.

– Ukraine: no visa is needed as long as your stay is 90 days or less. You apply for a visa upon arrival and the documents needed are listed in the links below.

Visa to Russia:

Travel to Russia is a unique opportunity to get acquainted with Russian history and culture. Russia spans eleven time zones and two continents and is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. This is a great country with an array of rivers, forests and towering mountains. Now you have a chance to explore its land of striking beauty and diversity, from magnificent capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg, to the measured life of Siberian cities.

View of the Moscow Kremlin from the Moscow River area.

You will need a visa to travel to Russia. A tourist visa is generally all that is needed for a stay of 30 days or less. Unless you plan to leave and then return again, you want a single entry.  A multiple entry visa is just what the name implies.

Russian visas include a tourist visa good up to 30 days or a multi-entry visa up to 3 years. Business visas are up to 90 days.

US State Dept. notice: limitations on Length of Stay and Exit Visas after September 2012– Multi-entry visas permit U.S. citizens to remain on the territory of the Russian Federation for up to six consecutive months. Under this agreement it is expected that qualified U.S. applicants for humanitarian, private, tourist, and business visas can receive multiple-entry visas with a validity of three years, but will still be beholden to the six-month rule. Transit (exit) and student visas are not addressed in this visa agreement.

Every foreigner needs a visa to go to Russia. In order to get it, you need to get an invitation (visa support letter) from Russia first and then apply for the visa at the Russian consulate.

You can have a travel agent do all this for you. Be careful, however, because some local travel agents and hotels reservation services “lock” you into a fixed itinerary or limit their visa validity to the period they’re staying at the particular hotel.

Please, use only a travel agency registered to do business WITH AN OFFICE IN RUSSIA. Unless an agency is very, very experienced at Russian travel, you may be asking for problems.

Another important note: If you plan to travel to Russia, then spend a few days in neighboring Ukraine, Georgia, or Belarus, etc, you WILL need a multiple entry visa else you would most certainly be denied re-entry back into Russia.

Photo by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, 2011.

Reputable travel agencies:






Get a Visa to Russia:





Get a Visa to Ukraine:

Ukrainian visas are not needed for stays under 90 days and entry is granted upon arrival. If you intend to stay in Ukraine for more than 90 days out of any 180, you will need to get a visa.


Tips for preparing to travel or live abroad:

Preparing to go abroad includes securing important documents, making copies, and a lot of planning.

  • Passports: check expiration – they must not expire within 6 months of our arrival. Make at least 2 copies and keep one in a safe place separate from your original passport.
  • Secure medical insurance and possibly travel insurance to prevent unmanageable medical bills and enable entry into other countries.
  • If you are staying long enough that you need a Visa, research and begin the process before you leave.
  • Save enough money to support your cost of living and lifestyle plus travel costs with enough of a buffer to be prepared for the unexpected.

On the home front, make sure all bills are paid or have a means of being paid. If you are retaining a residence while abroad, make sure the rent is taken care of and that utilities are being paid while you are away.

Forward your mail and change any subscriptions you may have. Be sure that important institutions like your bank and business are able to reach you.

Its a complicated regime to do things legally and one of the government goals is to standardize and simplify the process.

The information below will try to indicate what is LEGAL today and conforms to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

For every legal Western resident/worker in Russia, dozens more will come out of the woodwork to tell about their exceptions, bribes, that the government doesn’t really care, a brother who knows a cousin whose Uncle is best pals with the director, etc. That is fine if it works, the individual can exit/enter freely and is willing to be arrested and/or heavily fined if suddenly the rules are tightened.

What is legal today is complicated, but contained in Articles 26 and 27 of the Constitution and detailed in Russian Federal Law #114-FZ which spells out the legalities of entrance and departure to/from the Russian Federation.

Migration Cards
Everyone gets one, even those who hold work visas and temporary resident permits. The only exceptions to this rule are those who hold permanent residency.

In the case of a work visa or temporary residency, when filling out the migration card, the name of the organization/individual who issued the “invitation” should not be the travel agency or hotel (which is normal for a tourist visa), rather the name of the company/employer or individual (spouse, etc) who secured the right to extend the invitation.

A Guide for the Registration of Foreign Citizens in Russia

(Source: http://www.levinebridge.com/library/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=407)

1. What changes were made to the rules of registration of foreign citizens in Russia from January to March 2011?

Over the past several months the procedures for the registration of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation by place of residence have seen significant changes.

One of the first changes in the registration procedures of foreign citizens that came into effect was the elimination of the state fee for registration. Thus, current procedures are conducted without any financial cost to the hosting (inviting) party, except for a small payment that is to be applied upon the formal arrival notification of a foreign citizen if the notification is sent via post.
Another change in migration legislation was the ability of employers to register foreign citizens by the address of the hosting (receiving) company. Thus, in the Federal Law of March 20, 2011 № 42-FZ, which was issued on March 25, 2011, lawmakers revised the legal definition “place of residence of a foreign citizen”. At present the place of residence of a foreign citizen or a person without citizenship in the Russian Federation (hereafter – place of residence) is defined not just as a berthing space that is not the place of his/her living by law, but also other premises, institutions, or organizations in which a foreign citizen or a person without citizenship stays, and/or the address at which a foreign citizen or a person without citizenship shall be registered in accordance with the Federal law.

Thus, foreign citizens again possess the option of

(A) either registering at their actual place of residence,

(B) or registering at the address of the receiving company.

In addition to this, the Federal Law of March 20, 2011 № 42-FZ increases the time period to complete the registration process of a foreign citizen who is temporarily residing or staying in the Russian Federation from three to seven working days.

2. How do foreign citizens register by actual place of residence (residential address) in the Russian Federation?

After deciding to register by actual place of residence, a foreign citizen upon his/her arrival to the place of residence must submit to the owner of the residence a copy of his/her passport, visa, and migration card. Within seven working days the owner of the residence can then formalize the registration of the foreign citizen in one of the following ways:

1) An in-person application to the territorial office of the Federal Migration Service (FMS), which will include the address of the residential property and the arrival notification of the foreign citizen. In this case, registration by place of residence of a foreign citizen is valid for the duration of his/her visa. The tear-off part of the arrival notifications then given an official stamp of approval by an official of the FMS.

2) An in-person sending of the arrival notification (as a rule, it is filled out by hand) and copies of the foreign citizen’s documents to the territorial office of the FMS via post, along with a letter listing its contents. In this instance, registration by place of residence is granted for a period not exceeding 90 calendar days, with the possibility of extension. Instead of an official FMS stamp to the migration card, the post office stamp is deemed as official recognition of registration.

In the instance that a foreigner arrives in the Russian Federation via a visa-free regime, the foreigner must provide the hosting (inviting) party with a copy of his/her passport and a copy of his/her migration card. Registration of the foreign citizen by his/her own place of residence is carried out by the FMS or the post office for a period of up to 90 calendar days.

The tear-off part of the arrival notification is, in all instances, passed to the foreign citizen.

3. How do foreign citizens register by address of the receiving company?
If a foreign citizen is to register by the address of the inviting (receiving) party, upon arrival he/she must submit to the inviting party copies of all documents, including his/her passport, visa, and migration card. As in the above mentioned instances, within seven working days the employer must submit the arrival notification of the foreign citizen:

1) either for the period a foreigner’s visa is valid, submitting it to the territorial office of the FMS in which the company is listed,

2) or for a period of up to 90 calendar days, sending the arrival notification blank and copies of all the foreign citizen’s documents to the territorial office of the FMS via post, along with a letter listing its contents. Upon conclusion of the registration period, it may be extended by similar means or by directly contacting a representative of the company and in turn the territorial office of the FMS no later than the last day before the expiration date of the current arrival notification of the foreign citizen.

As a general rule, either through the territorial office of the FMS or via post, a foreign citizen arriving on the territory of the Russian Federation by a visa-free regime can be registered for a period of up to 90 calendar days from the final date of registration by place of residence using the address of the company or another address.

4. How do foreign citizens register if their place of stay in the Russian Federation is a hotel?

Upon arrival in the Russian Federation, a foreign citizen is automatically registered at the hotel in which he/she is residing. The hotel is obligated to follow migration law in the process of registration of foreign visitors immediately upon their arrival. This registration is issued for a short period of time; that is, only for the period of time in which a foreign citizen is a guest in the hotel. By the old rules, once the foreign citizen has departed, the hotel administration would submit to the FMS the notification of arrival; however, as of February 15, 2011, the notification form remains in the possession of the foreign citizen after departure from the hotel.

5. How do foreign citizens de-register upon movement to other regions of the Russian Federation or upon exiting the country?

The official website of the FMS has published clarification that upon exiting from the former place of residence to a new place of residence, the tear-off part of the arrival notification remains in the possession of the foreign citizen.Upon a foreigner’s arrival at the new place of residence, the previous tear-off part of the arrival notification passes from the foreign citizen to a new receiving party, and it is used for the registration of the foreign citizen according to his new address. For example, having registered at any address in Moscow and then going to other region of Russia, the foreign citizen passes the tear-off part of the arrival notification issued in Moscow to a receiving party in the region (to the proprietor of a house, the representative of the inviting company, or the administration of a hotel). Instead of this tear-off part of the arrival notification, the foreign citizen gets a new one indicating the address of the place of residence in the region. In the process of registration at his/her new place of residence, the foreigner is automatically removed from the registration of his previous address in Moscow. With regards to the prolongation of validity of registration at the place of residence, in obtaining a new registration blank, the data of the foreign citizen’s current migration card should be used. And as on the migration card, the earlier date of entrance into Russia is displayed, but the date of arrival to a new place of residence is not displayed. Therefore, for the confirmation of timely registration in the previous places of residence, it is desirable for the foreign citizen to provide a new receiving party with copies of the previous tear-off part of the arrival notifications issued during the current visit to Russia.

When the foreign citizen departs from Russia, the tear-off part of the arrival notification surrenders to the border control.

Thus, since February 15, 2011, the receiving party is released from the obligation to notify the FMS about the foreign citizen’s departure from the place of residence within two working days.

6. What are the specific features of registration and de-registration by place of residence of foreign citizens who are classified as Highly Qualified Specialists?

Preferential treatment of migration registration is applied to Highly Qualified Specialists. Since February 15, 2011, Highly Qualified Specialists and foreign citizens who are family members of Highly Qualified Specialists are free from registration by place of residence for the period not exceeding 90 calendar days after entering the territory of the Russian Federation.

Herewith, the specified foreign citizens registered by the place of their living (the place of residence) in the Russian Federation, in the case of their moving on the territory of the Russian Federation and upon arriving to the new place of stay for the period not exceeding thirty calendar days, are free from registration at the new place of residence. Upon expiry of this 90-day or thirty-day period, the specified foreign citizens are obliged to fulfill the actions necessary for their registration at the place of residence during the period not exceeding seven working days.

Like other foreign citizens, Highly Qualified Specialists can be registered by the place of their actual living on the territory of Russia, by the address of the employer, or by the hotel address.
In case of registration by the actual address, the arrival notification is obtained by the owner of the living quarters for the period from 90 calendar days (in the case of carrying out the procedure via post, with the possibility of prolongation of the registration) to three years (in the case of registration at the territorial office of the FMS).
The tear-off part of the arrival notification is passed to the foreign citizen.

In the case of registration by the address of the receiving company, the arrival notification can also be issued for the period from 90 calendar days to three years.

If a Highly Qualified Specialist was registered by the address of the hotel for a short period of time immediately upon his/her arrival in Russia, according to migration legislation, he/she is free from the obligation to register at another place of residence during the period of thirty calendar days after moving to a new place of residence.

In some cases the tear-off part of the arrival notification of a Highly Qualified Specialist could be required for submitting to other state authorities, e.g. tax authorities for the purpose of his/her registration as a taxpayer. In this case the foreign citizen should be registered by means of any of the abovementioned ways. Besides the specified advantages, Highly Qualified Specialists who are owners of living accommodations on the territory of Russia can act as a receiving party for their family members.

7. What are the advantages to foreign citizens of the new rules in registration by place of residence in the Russian Federation?

The changes that have been implemented from January to March 2011 in the rules governing registration of foreign citizens can be characterized as progressive in nature and are evident in the following:

1) The state fees for the registration of foreign citizens were eliminated;

2) The hosting (inviting) party is now exempt from the responsibility of notification to the FMS of departure of the foreign citizen from his/her place of residence; in this case the foreign citizen in his/her movement throughout the territory of the Russian Federation retains the tear-off blank of the arrival notification up until registration by his/her new place of residence. This eliminates the former administrative responsibility of each hosting (receiving) party for non-delivery of the tear-off blank of the foreign citizen’s arrival notification to the FMS upon departure of the foreign citizen from the place of residence.

3) Deregistration of a foreign citizen occurs upon registration at a new place of residence or upon departure from the territory of the Russian Federation, which indicates an improvement in the Russian migration control system;

4) Foreign citizens who are not registered by place of residence in accordance with migration legislation are not liable for breaching the rules of registration by place of residence except for circumstances in which they are obliged to inform about their place of residence;

5) Highly Qualified Specialists, as well as foreign citizens who are their family members, have the opportunity to stay in the region of their employment without officially registering by place of residence for a period of up to 90 calendar days. In the instance of work-related travel to another region on the territory of the Russian Federation, they could stay there without registration for thirty calendar days, if the previous place of residence has already been registered.

The advantages of these changes provide employers with more comfortable conditions to conduct business, because they will no longer have to expend considerable time in managing the questions related to migration procedures. These changes also bring further clarity to the rules governing the migration process of foreigners in Russia, their frequent travels within the territory of the Russian Federation, and their travels throughout the world.

Companies providing Visa registration services:


http://www.nevsky88.com/Visa  Nevsky88 provides registration services for citizens of most countries.


Work Permits:
Soon new laws will replace current ones so those who reside now in Russia should pay careful attention as the changes are made. The government doesn’t care if you were here before the law changed, conforming to it is what they expect you to do.

Each year the government sets an annual quota for foreigners allowed to be in the workforce. Those quotas are broken down by region so the number of permits allocated for Moscow may be quite different than for Novosibirsk, for example.

In order to legally work in Russia a foreign citizen needs a work permit. That is obtained not by the individual, but by the employer. An employer must meet certain standards and make certain guarantees (about the foreigner) at the time of application.

So, the employer issues the invitation, obtains a work permit for you, withholds taxes, and makes certain guarantees about where you will live, where you can/cannot travel, and when you will exit Russia.

The famous 180/90 Rule
(From US Embassy website) In October 2007, the Russian government made significant changes to its rules regarding the length of stay permitted to most foreign visitors.  For any visa issued on or after October 18, 2007, unless that visa specifically authorizes employment or study, a foreigner may stay in Russia only 90 days in any 180-day period. This applies to business, tourist, humanitarian and cultural visas, among other categories.

Putting the horse before the cart (wordplay intentional):

First, the employer must obtain permission from the regional office of the Federal Migration Service to employ foreign citizens. Then, the employee can be hired, invitation extended for a work visa and the employer is required to register the employee with Russian immigration and tax officials.

You must reside in the region where you work.

There is an alternate way obtain a work permit without being hired at first by a particular company. As in other countries, there are “staff leasing” companies in Russia. Become an employee of the staff leasing firm who then leases you to the company you really want to work with. This works if your employer of choice is not certified to employ foreigners or if they have met a quota and cannot hire additional foreign employees.

Stuck in a bad job?
In most cases you can switch employers easily without fear of losing your work permit but there are some things to keep in mind:

– You cannot switch if the time remaining on your work permit is less than 3 months until expiration.
– If you switch, make certain that a new employer has the right to apply for your extension when it expires in the future.
– The new employer must take on responsibility for your registration with the Federal Migration Service and withhold taxes.

Penalty for working without authorization
The law stipulates that any foreign citizen working without a valid work permit may be fined and deported from Russia. The employer will also be fined and forfeits the right to apply for permission to employ foreigners in the future.

Bribes to local officials work for a time but sooner or later the wrong officials may take notice. Then the party is over.

Who does not require a work permit:
– Those holding legal temporary and permanent resident status.

– Diplomats and employees of certain NGO’s.

– Students and teachers have a different set of rules to follow.

How to become a legal resident:
Two types of residency are legal in Russia–temporary and permanent.

A two-stage process, one must become a temporary resident first, spending time as a legal temporary resident in order to quality later to apply for permanent residency. A temporary residency permit takes about 6 months to acquire and is valid for 3 years. A person may apply for permanent residency after one year of temporary residency. That is actually a good idea as it takes at least a year for permanent residence to be granted from the date first filed.

Under current law, in order to become a temporary resident one must be invited by a private person (Russian citizen or another permanent resident). The Federal Migration Service calls this a “private invitation.” This invitation must be made in the local immigration office (OVIR) where the citizen extending the invitation permanently resides.

Applications are available at OVIR, proof of paid imigration fees must be presented, and the person issuing the invitation should not have a criminal record or be subject to back personal taxes. The processing takes from 30 to 90 days at which time the documents are issued and transferred to the foreign person who must then use them to apply for a visa from the Russian Embassy/Consulate in his/her country.

A temporary residency permit is issued later, but at first the foreign person is issued a “private visa” (sometimes called a “homestay” visa) which is valid for up, but no longer than, 3 months. It is a single entry/exit visa only and the visa period is listed on the stamp.

Upon arrival in Russia the holder of the private visa must register at the place of residence of the person who made the invitation. The registration will require proof that the Russian citizen has legal rights to this apartment and a notarized letter specifying that you are invited by the citizen to live there also.

At that point the fun has only begun because there is a laundry list of documents needed (remember the private visa only lasts 3 months) to submit in order to have the visa converted to a registration of temporary resident status. There are specialized agencies who do all the leg work for a fee and it’s probably well worth the aggravation to have it done by a pro.

One of the problems in current law is that the private visa lasts just 3 months, yet it often takes 6+ months to have it converted into a Разрешение на временное проживание (temporary residence permit or TRP). In most cases to avoid future problems the applicant leaves Russia and returns later on a new 3 month private visa while waiting for the TRP.

There are limitations to holding a temporary residence permit: The migration card should be filled out when traveling city to city, certain regions/cities in Russia are off limits, and to leave temporarily means that the resident must apply for a special exit visa which takes weeks, making emergency travel impossible.

Restrictions: if you reside in Russia as a temporary resident and wish to work a job outside the region where you were registered for temporary residency, you must obtain a work permit. Also, you may not move to live in another region of Russia while holding a temporary resident status.

Advantages of permanent residency:
– You don’t need a work permit.
– You may come and go as you please, no entry or exit visas needed.
– You may sponsor other foreign individuals to live in Russia.

It should be noted that there are annual quotas, even for the issuance of temporary and permanent residence permits. Certain categories of foreign citizens are not subject to the quota, including, foreigners married to Russians residing in Russia; and foreign investors making investments.

Foreign citizens who are not subject to the quota for the issuance of a temporary residence permits should additionally submit: marriage certificate and spouse’s passport (if the spouse is a Russian citizen); document confirming that the foreign citizen has an established place to residence, or consent of Russian citizens registered in Russia at their place of residence to provide a place of residence for the foreign citizen. (US Embassy website)

Finally, the Permanent Residence Permit is valid for five years and may be extended an unlimited number of times.

“Closed” cities and regions:
Those didn’t just “go away” with the death of the Soviet Union. Some cities in Russia remain under entry restrictions. In most of these cases you may visit but it means a second layer of strict passport control type of process for entry. With these regions it is better to arrive by private car, bus or train to avoid the passport control regiment at the local airport.

Russia maintains today 41 closed cities (ZATOs). Ten remain focused on nuclear weapons and energy research; Moscow has transferred their management to the Rosatom State Corporation–a quasi-privatized entity that was once the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy.

In January 2006 there was a lot of excitement when the government announced that all remaining “closed cities” would be opened. But over time it has turned out that in reality it was a way for the federal government to stop direct financial aid via their special administrative and budgetary status. In most other respects, they have remained closed.

Some formerly closed cities still have restrictions even while “open” and those include cities like Volgograd, Astrakhan, Novosibirsk, Murmansk, Severodvinsk, Rostov on the Don, Krasnodarsky Krai, Mineralnye Vody, Pyatigorsk, and Krasnovodsk.

You can travel, in fact the Mendeleyev family dacha is outside Volgograd. However in these places be certain to register upon arrival and be make sure to list them on your visa documents when applying in case a local Militsa officer wants to hassle you for a bribe.

Some cities you simply cannot enter without special permits issued by local migration authorities or by the Federal Migration office in Moscow. These include Yakutia (Sakha Republic), Norilsk, Sakhalin, Kamchatka, North Ossetia (Vladikavkaz), Chechnya, Nalchik, and Dagestan.

From the US Embassy website: “Travelers who attempt to enter these areas without prior authorization are subject to arrest, fines, and/or deportation.”

Federal Migration Service
4 Verkhnyaya Radishchevskaya St., Bldg 1.
Tel. (495) 698-0078
Metro Taganskaya

One of the best resources for this topic is Expat.ru

паспорт is the Russian word for passport
паспорт is the Russian word for passport

2 thoughts on “A Russian Visa

  1. The USA government has illegally blacklisted me from employment and I have been under attack in the USA. I would like to relocate to a nation where I do not have to live in fear of being forcibly injected and tortured and threatened with incarceration with false claims of insanity.

    I was an investigative journalist of government crimes in finance and medicine. Prior to that I was a federal bank examiner and I was placed in an office where the prior regional director had his brains blown out and claimed suicide — that was at the San Francisco FDIC in the early 1990’s.

    The USA banking system is going under as we know it and I no longer see anything but negative or predatory capitalism. You can see my website by doing an internet search for Mobile Audt Club

    If anyone can help me get into Russia in employment where I am free from torture and threats and forced injections and harassment, I would like to see the nation.

    Kurt Brown aka Saint Ram Bone of Mobile Audit Club


    1. mendeleyev

      Kurt, if you are looking for a land free for investigative journalists, Russia makes the USA look like Disneyland. It would be like jumping from a mildly heated sauce plate into a raging inferno.


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