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Eased U.S.-Russia Visa Rules Go Into Force Sept. 9

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Eased U.S.-Russia Visa Rules Go Into Force Sept. 9

NO MORE INVITATIONS FOR AMERICAN PP HOLDERS

<<In a major triumph for the U.S.-Russia reset, the two countries will introduce a simplified visa regime that includes three-year visas from next month.

The Foreign Ministry has exchanged diplomatic notes with the U.S. Embassy — the final step in the landmark deal — and the new rules will come into force on Sept. 9, the ministry said Monday in a statement.

The new rules will make three-year multiple-entry visas allowing a maximum stay of six months the norm for both tourists and business travelers.

The ministry said a decision on whether to approve each application will now have to be made within 15 calendar days of submission.

The visa agreement — initiated by Washington as President Barack Obama sought to improve relations with Moscow — also ends a requirement for U.S. visitors to obtain a written invitation from a Russian citizen or organization to apply for a visa. The United States had no such requirement for Russian visitors but will continue to ask first-time applicants to attend an interview.

President Vladimir Putin signed the visa agreement on July 28, days after being ratified by the State Duma and Federation Council. Under U.S. law, no ratification was required in the United States.>>

Read more: themoscowtimes.com/news/…ixzz23UI7R21D

The Moscow Times

peninsula, ohio
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41. Re: Eased U.S.-Russia Visa Rules Go Into Force Sept. 9

Hi, I'm a beginner when it comes to Russian Visas. I literally just started researching the subject last night and it already seems a bit mind boggling, but I'm determined to forge ahead. I have read the press releases about the big changes coming this weekend 9/9/12. But then when I look at various passport/visa agency websites, no one has any mention at all about the new requirements.

My situation is a little different. We are wanting to go visit our son and his family. He is a U.S. Department of State employee living in Moscow with his wife and child. This is their very first overseas assignment and they just arrived in Moscow less than 2 months ago. They are already feeling homesick for family, and our granddaughter is having a tough time adjusting, so my husband and I got this big idea to go visit them over Christmas. They are so excited....but now I'm beginning to wonder whether the timing (and expense) is doable.

I emailed our son yesterday with a lot of visa related questions, hoping that he might be able to get some answers "from the inside" over there. But since he is so brand new in his position, still going through training, perfecting his language skills and just getting to know coworkers, etc, he might not know who to ask yet for insider info. Plus, with the upcoming changes, he might not be able to find anyone that really even knows the definitive answers. So I know I need to start getting this figured out on my end.

I plan to try calling one of the passport/visa agencies later today when i have some time to spend on the phone, but meanwhile I thought I'd try putting the question on TA in case any of you could offer insights into this unique situation.

Here are my two most pressing concerns:

Should I be pursuing a Private Visit visa, or a Tourist Visa? Some of the agency websites I've read say Tourist Visas require hotel info, which of course I won't have because we're staying at my son's home. But then I've read that Private Visit visas require the "Russian citizen" that we'll be staying with to submit something. But what about if we are staying with an American citizen who happens to be living in Russia?

Also, is it recommended (or required) to purchase our airline tickets before applying for visas? Or do you recommend we have our Russian visas securely in hand before investing $3000 in airplane tickets?

Thanks so much for any advice.

Peggy

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42. Re: Eased U.S.-Russia Visa Rules Go Into Force Sept. 9

From there perspective of someone planning a first trip to Russia, there are two main problems with the current invitation system:

1) The cost and hassle of getting the invitiation.

2) The fact that the visa is only good for the exact days of the invitation.

#1 is a annoying... but it's the sort of minor corruption you have to put up sometimes when traveling.

#2 is the scary one. People believe that if they are delayed for any reason... if they miss their plane, if their train is delayed, if they get sick, if they don't get across the border for any reason, they will be in Russia illegally and won't be allowed to leave until the go through massive red tape. Not sure how true this is, but that's the perception.

If the new rules still require an invitation, but allow for a bit of flexibility, it's still a massive improvement.

Coventry, United...
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43. Re: Eased U.S.-Russia Visa Rules Go Into Force Sept. 9

I'd say you'll need to go down the tourist visa route, it early days with these new rules and you have plenty of time still to obtain your visas. You probably need to buy some kind of accommodation voucher much in the same way people buy visa support documents. You just need this to get the visa, once you are in Russia you'll be free to stay with you son although you might need think about registration.

You don't need to book your flights for your visa application, but obviously Christmas and the New Year are peak travel times and it can get expensive if you leave it too late.

Plymouth, Minnesota
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44. Re: Eased U.S.-Russia Visa Rules Go Into Force Sept. 9

Re DrDebi's experience...well and fine. I would not count on this being the rule. True, one can always get fictitious docs from agencies, and maybe some hotels have a connection with a larger agency and could do this.

Having said that, leading the average tourist to think that they should expect their hotel to fake this is quite another. If things were this simple, and "everyone" or most did this, then we would not have all the round and round about getting invites from each hotel and city. While admittedly many things in all of this often sound complicated, and then turns out no one pays attention, at some level, having a hotel essentially falsify a document is something one should not count on. and, again, I stress HOTEL vs. the agencies that make their living off of "falsifying" all of the current docs, both hotel vouchers and invites.

My direct experience was from Marriott, which is no slouch, fly-by-night outfit in Russia with around 7 properties in Moscow alone, where in no uncertain terms they advised not legal...this with me also being a Platinum member, and asking for a favor.

So, for others reading this debate, if you want to go ahead and try to see if your hotel can or is willing to do this, knock your socks off. I would be interested in the answers!

Edited: 07 September 2012, 19:49
Plymouth, Minnesota
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45. Re: Eased U.S.-Russia Visa Rules Go Into Force Sept. 9

OK...checked with DrDebi, and the final story is she fully "employed" one of the hotels to work with local tourist agencies to in fact provide the "same" paperwork folks here are used to who use a visa agency for this, including paying a fee...BUT, unlike the pure agency route, she had to provide formal copies of all her hotel reservations, which one would not have to do with a visa agency.

The bottom line is nothing is ever quite as it simple as it seems, and based on this, one should not simply expect a hotel to issue this paperwork without jumping thru quite a few hoops...

peninsula, ohio
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46. Re: Eased U.S.-Russia Visa Rules Go Into Force Sept. 9

Thanks for your reply, Michaeldunha. I actuslly just received an email from my son explaining that we will be getting a special type of visa as "Guests of the Embassy" and that I need to wait for him to make the first move with an invite. That surprised me since I thought invitations were being eliminated. So anyway, he said he'd have to walk us through the Guest of Embassy procedural steps so at least now I have my answer for our specific situation.

He did say something that I thought others on this thread might find interesting...Keep in mind he is a US Dept of State employee working at the US Embassy in Moscow.

"Lots of unknowns regarding how smoothly the Sept 9 visa changes will go over. This is an enormous step/change for the Russian gov't so no one knows how exactly it will be enacted (or properly handled.) it's all very new so our embassy is still trying to figure out how this will apply to Guests of the Embassy and how it will/will not effect how visa applications are submitted."

Sounds like they are being kept pretty much in the dark about all this too!

Auckland, New...
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47. Re: Eased U.S.-Russia Visa Rules Go Into Force Sept. 9

Hi Peggy

Very pleased to hear that your son is able to guide you through this.

I am sure your trip will now occur.

I think most people in this forum can relate to the concerns that your son expresses.

The formal information around these changes is poor.This reflects badly on the architects of the changes and creates confusion for travellers and potential travellers and the travel industry.

It remains to be seen if the "change" is actually an improvement.

Best wishes so that you enjoy your trip and your experiences in Russia.

Regards

DCtheKiwi

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48. Re: Eased U.S.-Russia Visa Rules Go Into Force Sept. 9

ILS have now published new information.

http://www.ils-usa.com/news/2012-09-07/

Invitations are still required as we surmised.

I am still not clear on registration.

DCtheKiwi

Coventry, United...
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49. Re: Eased U.S.-Russia Visa Rules Go Into Force Sept. 9

What's not clear about registration?

The significant thing I can see is they've dropped the requirement for an official invitation for a private visa just a letter from your host, doesn't say if it can be a copy or not?

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50. Re: Eased U.S.-Russia Visa Rules Go Into Force Sept. 9

I am going to apply for the visa next week. Does anyone have any damn idea what I need to do??? Should I just do it the old way and burn the $30. I really don't care about the money, I just want this done right. I don't have hotel reservations yet. I don't need them if I get the invitation from one of the companies online right? I will be submitting my application to the consulate in New York. Do they accept faxed/emailed copies of the invitation? How long typically does it take for the Consulate in New York to issue the visa? I am debating if I should do expedited or not.

Edited: 10 September 2012, 04:30