Those who have set their mind to make a journey to Russia might encounter certain difficulties while applying for visa. While for most of the countries booking a hotel and a return ticket will do perfectly, processing of Russian visa (unless it’s a transit visa) you should get a Russian visa invitation letter - a special visa support document. Usually such document can be granted through the entity or the person who is dealing with your visa invitation process. It may be a tourist company, an educational establishment, an employing company, your friend or family member who lives there. Then you may proceed with the visa support paperwork in the nearest Embassy/Consulate of Russia. You can easily do it by yourself or pay some extra money to a local travel agent which will do it for you. Be careful because operators may confine the travelers to a fixed route or fetch the term of their visa based on the duration of stay at the particular hotel/accommodation.
It is mandatory to remember that the terms and Russian visa type you are about to obtain should be followed at all times. Starting from the moment when you enter the territory of the Russian Federation, you will neither be able to amend your visa status (e.g. from personal one to study, from tourist one to work, etc.), nor prolong your visa period (unless you encounter unforeseen circumstances). To transfer or upgrade visa, a visitor shall exit the Russian Federation and proceed with another visa application process.
The categories of those who can invite visitors to Russia are as follows:
nationals above the age of 18 residing in Russia
citizens above the age 18 who hold other countries’ nationality but are permanent residents in Russia.
entities which are officially authorized and registered by the Federal Migration Services on the territory of Russia;
travel bureaus which have their special reference number and are registered in the Unified Register of Tour Operators of the Russian Federation.
Getting a tourist visa invitation letter is the most widespread and the simplest mode of acquiring an invitation, which leads to receiving a tourist visa to Russia. The tourist visa invitation letter may also be called a tourist voucher. As a rule, the tourist visa invitation consists of two papers. Those papers are: the approval for admitting an overseas visitor and the actual voucher. All the paperwork is to be filed with regards to what the legislation of Russian Federation and the Consulate requires.
A tourist visa invitation, which includes two papers mentioned above, should be presented on the letterhead of a travel agent. It is the mandatory condition for the document to be considered as valid. Here is an examplet:
Tourist visa invitation letter to a foreign visitor implies tourist purposes and is valid at most for 30 days of staying in the territory of Russian Federation. Except the actual tourism, you may visit the country for matters of healthcare or attending entertainment and sports activities. A tourist invitation letter is presented in the form of single- and double-entry versions. Single-entry invitation allows you to visit this country once and then leave its territory when the validity term of invitation is over. Double-entry option of invitation gives you an opportunity of arriving and leaving Russia twice during the term of the invitation validity.
You can get business visa in the Consulate of Russia in the specific country. As mentioned in the official rules, a foreign visitor willing to travel to Russia is supposed to apply for the business visa in his/her country of residence. In any event, business visa invitation letter is certainly required to apply and get business visa. The whole process has to be performed in conformance with the Russian legislation standards and procedures. Also, you must be prepared to pay all necessary extra fees in the Russian Consulate upon the process of submitting the papers needed for a business visa. After the accepting party in Russia provides you with the business visa invitation letter, Consulate’s officials stamps Business Visa to Russia on the pages of travel document.
Speaking of the business visa invitation letter, let us move to the FMS form as it is the most important way of obtaining a visa. The whole procedure of applying for the business visa invitation letter for a certain overseas visitor starts with filling up the application form. Having the business invitation on the FMS form, an applicant can check the legitimacy of the invitation, using automatized database of FMS of Russia. Normally you can issue a business visa invitation to Russia on the FMS form for 30/90 days. One can choose between single, double or multiple entries for a period of 180/365 days. Today, foreigners can easily obtain a multiple visa to Russian Federation even if they had never had any visas before.
Electronic business invitation letter with FMS barcode. With the advent of new technologies, the electronic mail services became one of the most popular ways of processing business invitation letters. With a simplicity and reliability of electronic letter containing FMS barcode, the whole process of visa support is much easier for foreign nationals visiting Russia for purposes of business. The application process for receiving the business invitation letter with FMS barcode has no difference from the one for a paper invitation letter. Nonetheless, obtaining a final electronic letter gives an opportunity to file an electronic version of invitation to the Consulate. In this way, it helps not to waste your time and money you spend sending paper version of the invitation letter to a foreigner. Electronic FMS looks much more attractive with its cost and convenience of issuing, in comparison with Telex.
Telex is visa support letter forwarded through the Telex channel by the MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) of Russia to a specific Russian Consulate based on the petition sent to the MFA of Russia by the authorized territorial or federal body.
30 - 90 days (up to 5 years)
A private invitation letter for visa can be filed only by residents who have reached the age of 18 and are permanently registered on the territory of Russia. Such citizen also has to confirm his or her material basis in order, to be able to provide the invited foreign person with placement in event of unexpected circumstances. They will be in charge of the deportation of the invited person in case when a foreigner breaks the migration laws of Russia.
In case of a private visa invitation letter, the required support paper can also be provided by the company which invites a foreigner to Russian Federation on its behalf, by means of a private visa. It’s a common practice, all the purposes of visits are listed in the legislative documents of the Russian Federation. For such matters, legal entities must be registered with the FMS of Russian Federation.
The private visa invitation letter can also be issued, when a foreigner desires to come to Russia on a personal visit and doesn’t have an opportunity to be invited by the Russian resident. Therefore, tourist agencies offer certain services - obtaining a private visa on their behalf or through another company.
30 - 90 days
Number of entries:
Single- or double-entry
Companies which hire overseas specialists in Russia, according to the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, are obliged to issue all necessary documents to make the employee’s stay on its territory legal (working visa). They have to obtain the company’s permit - ‘Permission for employment of overseas workers’, as well as ‘employment permit’ issued to such employee.
A work visa invitation letter shall be obtained by the employing company through the FMS office. Work visa invitation serves as grounds for issuing a work visa. This type of visa is valid for 3 months. On arrival to Russia it is essential for the overseas worker to show up at the immigration office and register there within the term of 7 (seven) working days. The employer is supposed to deal with the process of visa prolongation. The contract of employment regulates the duration of stay of the overseas worker (cannot be more than 365 days).
1 - 3 years
A study visa invitation letter can be obtained in case if a foreign national student has entered the Higher Educational institution in the Russian Federation through submitting a valid proof, such as the outcome of exams or an interview. The establishment shall assign a representative to submit a necessary set of paperwork at the Federal Migration Services. From the beginning a foreign student is supposed to come to Russia on any other visa (tourist or personal one) in order to pass all exams or interviews which are necessary to enroll to the educational establishment and only then shall they acquire a study visa.
The validity of the study visa invitation letter is 90 (ninety) days. Within these 90 days a foreign national student must visit Russia for the relevant accepting establishment to extend the visa duration for the first full year of studies.
• Not all institutions accept the copies of invitation letters. Kindly double-check with the entity or the individual handling your visa invitation process about the same, so that you could avoid any unexpected issues or delays. Such updates can be obtained from the nearest Consulate / Embassy of the Russian Federation in the country where you are residing.
• Take into consideration that an invitation letter provided by a private party (such as your colleagues or acquaintances) does not compulsory serve as a sufficiently valid supporting paper. You can’t always use it for the Russian visa application. An authorised travel bureau or other company empowered by the MFA of Russia can solely provide such invitation.