New Russian visa rules mean greater flexibility for U.S. travelers as September 9 protocol falls into place.
For those not familiar with the new provisions, a Russian visa now provides for multiple entries, boosts allowable stays to six months, and increases validity to three years. There is some confusion on the need for a formal invitation [voucher], and while the condition to provide confirmed hotel accommodations remains intact, the continued invitation requirement will likely impact independent travelers. But the invitation can be an informal invite from an organization or individual.
Another complication: processing time can take as long as 20 business days with no option to expedite. While a month is a long time to go without your passport, travelers in immediate need have the option to apply for an expedited single entry, 30-day visa under the old protocol. Also, keep in mind U.S. passports must be valid for three-and-a half-years beyond the visa expiration date.
Overall this is a terrific move to develop tourism in Russia and, in particular, Russia’s Far East, making the multi-entry, extended visa worth the investment. To stay current on visa rules (they are subject to change) visit http://www.consulrussia.org/eng/index.html for a listing of up to date requirements.
We’d like to hear from you if you have had the chance to apply for a Visa under the new visa requirements; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.