RUSSIA – Eased Visa Requirements for United States Nationals
Russia and the United States have signed a bilateral agreement, due to come into force from 9 September 2012, which simplifies procedures for business, tourism, private and humanitarian visa applications for both nationalities.
The full terms of the agreement have not yet been finalised, but some of the key points are as follows:
- Processing time for visas should be 3 working days for urgent cases or up to 15 calendar days at the most;
- Visa validity should be for up to three years and should allow stays of up to 180 days (as opposed to the current limitation of 90 days);
- For nationals of the U.S. applying for Russian visas, it should no longer be a requirement to submit an official invitation letter from the government authority in support of the application, although note that the Russian Embassies and Consulates still reserve the right to request documents confirming purpose of travel and availability of sufficient funds;
- For individuals who have lost their passports, it should be possible to exit the country without the need to obtain an exit visa, provided an official identification document has been issued by the relevant consulate/diplomatic post in the host country;
- Visa applications will be accepted at Consulates/diplomatic posts outside the country of citizenship or normal residence of the applicant.
These updates will be implemented by the Russian/U.S. consulates and diplomatic posts worldwide and it is important to note that the acceptance and implementation of the changes may take some time.
It is strongly advised that visa applicants check all requirements prior to application directly with the consulate or diplomatic post where the visa application is being made.
- Note new measures taken to facilitate business and tourism travel between Russia and the United States
- Proceed with caution and always check specific requirements with the consulate or diplomatic post in advance of any visa application