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Visa requirements

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florida
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Visa requirements

Have not read many forums in about past 6 months. We are looking at visiting summer of 08-what are requirements for a 2-3 visit to St. Petersburg?

Thanks,

Casa

St Petersburg Russia
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1. Re: Visa requirements

Hello Casamurray

I believe you left out an important word after "2-3" , day, week month or year probably goes in that space and each results in a different answer.

A Tourist Visa is good for a maximum of 30 days and it is the most common visa for visitors. It comes in single entry and double entry varieties for the same cost in consular fees.

A business visa can be used for 3, 6 or 12 month duration and can be for an unlimited number of re-entries in that time if requested.

For US citizens, there is a consular fee for processing the visa of $100 each for 7 day processing and faster processing times can be requested for higher and higher fees. I am writing this from Finlandwhere I am sitting in a hotel waiting for the Russian consulate to open so I can renew my 12 month visa but because it is one day processing, there is a $450 fee.

A visa is obtained by submitting a completed visa application form, a passport style photo, your passport, and an invitation from your hotel. That invitation is usally send by email or fax free of charge if you book a room. This package is sent to the nearest Rusian Consulate and if you include a prepaid and addressed FexEx mailer your passport will be returned in a little over a week. It can also be applied for in person and picked up at a date and time determined by your choice of processing times. The fee you include will determine that. Payment must be in postal money order, cashier check or business check if applying for a business visa. Cash and Credit cards are not accepted.

Phoenix, Arizona
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2. Re: Visa requirements

If you google -yahoo Russian visa you will find many companies in the USA that can handle all of this for you, (visa and invitation or voucher). In the past I have used (kosmos travel) located in L A Cal area. They can book your flight and secure your visa-invitation and or voucher for you. (no trying to get a Russian hotel to send you one). They also offer flights-tickets through Areoflot, (Russian air line), that have direct flights to St Pete from New york city among other cities in America. If you only need a visa, (or flights also). You can contact red star travel. They are located across the street from a Russian embasy in seattle. They can get you your visa & invitation, all at the same place. (As can Kosmos travel). Have a nice trip.

florida
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3. Re: Visa requirements

thanks so much-meant to put days-you have been very helpful.

Casa

Springfield...
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4. Re: Visa requirements

I have had excellent results with travelvisapro.com - in fact I just FedEx'ed my passport to them this very morning. For $158 plus this morning's FedEx overnight costs, I expect to have my visa back a week from this Friday. I know from working with Kest (the proprietor) that I will get excellent service at a fair price.

St Petersburg Russia
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5. Re: Visa requirements

The reason I recommend visitors apply directly instead of using 3rd party visa resellers is that when a mistake is made in transcribing the application personal information a 3rd party will not recognize if there is a mistake, since none of the information is known by him. This happens all the time but if an applicant reviews the documents before submission, an error is easily spotted.

The new registation law requires the visitor to be sponsored and registered by the firm issuing the visa invitation, usually the hotel or other host in Russia. A visa service buys bulk invitations from a hotel or tour company whose name is keep secret from the visitor so the visitor will not bypass them and use the actual service provider directly. If there is a problem with entry, or while in Russia, the visitors sponsor is the only entity which apply for corrections or seek remedy.

When entering passport control the immigration officer often asks for the name of the sponsor to see if the visitor knows who invited them. They can be refused entry if the visitor does not know the sponsor and how to contact them since the sponsor is responsible for the visitor while in Russia. The sponsor should be from the city the visitor is going to.

I've seen too many screwups by 3rd party resellers of visas to trust an expensive vacation on their actions. Even though I know the processes and laws very well, I have personally had terrible problems when I used 3rd party services in the US. Once I was let down by one of the largest 3rd party services that took a lot of effort and time to resolve. Anyone else who did not have lots of contacts and resources in Russia would have been sent back and lost $5000 or more per person, plus the loss of any hotel bookings or tours paid for..

Taking the extra risk to save 5 minutes in application filing does not make sense to me, let alone being charged $58 for that added risk. If a visa service is insisted on, use one that can actually issue their own invitation meaning one located in the city where you are going, not one that has no authorization to invite visitors; meaning any non-Russia based tour service.

Any way you look at it, using a 3rd party visa reseller is trying to bypass Russian immigration law and that is not a good sign that visitors seek to flaunt the laws of the country they are a guest in.

Springfield...
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6. Re: Visa requirements

As always, thanks for the info,

Stan! I've obtained my visa from a third-party outfit all three times I've traveled to Russia without any hassle, but I try to be prepared for whatever may happen. The first two times, my visa listed "Arctur Travel" as the inviting party, and I did have their address and phone number on me (although I'd have no idea what to do with them), but that was more an accident of my natural paranoia. You can bet I will learn all I can about the inviting party this time. Do you think it would help to get a faxed invitation from the conference I'm attending just to have with me?

And while I'm asking, what do you know about the Novotel? It looks to be half way between the Emerald and Nevsky Prospect, and I could stay there for a very reasonable price if I act promptly.

St Petersburg Russia
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7. Re: Visa requirements

The visa situation is in flux now and what occured in the past does not always apply now. Arctur is a large incoming tour operator in SPb. which could handle problems if they occured here but most 3rd party resellers do not tell the visitor who is sponsoring them. Use Arctur directly in the future, it will be safer....and cheaper.

For example today, I was refused for the first time in 31 years for a Russian visa, my 12 month invitation was responded to with an offer to get a 30 single entry for the $450 processing fee. I now have to fly back to California to get the visa for the normal 12 months-mult-entry. I talked to 2 travel agencies with close contacts with the consulate in Finland and was told they have no idea what is going on but it is really hurting their business because they specialize in Finns visiting St Petersburg. So this 3 days of trying to get a visa is a bust. Going to the same consulate every year and having no problems in the past, this new policy was a real bad situation.

The Novotel is a 3 year old French owned modern hotel in a slightly hidden location 1/2 block from Nevsky pr. on Mayakovskova. It has modern confortable rooms, the best buffet in the city for lunch at 13 Euros and a nice fine dining restaurant. It is primarily a business hotel and has a lot of small seminars and meetings filling the meeting rooms. It is ver close to everything, on foot bu quiet, you would not even see it until in its main entrance driveway. I like it.

Springfield...
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8. Re: Visa requirements

That really eats govno, Stan. Do you get the impression that ever so slowly the RF is clamping down on expats and tourists? Again, I will be on guard... and thanks for the word on the Novotel.

St Petersburg Russia
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9. Re: Visa requirements

A follow up on the visa situation in Finland;

I was denied the visa in a reasonable time frame in the consulate in Lappeenratta Finland, a consulate close-by the Russian border. I wasted 3 days but returned to St Petersburg by train and headed off again to Finland by bus for an all night ride to Helsinki. I waited 4 hours wondering around the morning in the city center of Helsinki and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the modernization that is turning Helsinki into one of the best shopping and commercial areas in the this part of the world. The only problem with this city of order and organization is a lack of range of activities in terms of culture. I went to the consulate by 8am but found a long line waiting for the 9:00 opening. Other than waiting, there was no problem whatsoever regarding the visa. The staff was working as fast as they could to handle the work load and even a few worked through their lunch hour to accept and preprocess applications. I asked a staff person why there were problems in the other smaller town and she said she did not know but it was causing major workload headaches for them because many people who used to go the easier to reach border town were having to visit Helsinki after being turned away.

From what I can guess, a new office manager is making up his own rules and it might take a lot of complaints to have it corrected. I've never heard of such problems in any of the US Russian Consulates.

On a side note regarding visa invitations. A nice older couple from Australia were waiting in line and received their visas but noticed the wrong date of exit, a date several days before their tour was to be completed.

They bought once-in-a-lifetime tour package to Russia and Ukraine from an Australian tour agent. When they arrived at St Petersburg their visas had dates that did not match their itinerary and were denied entry. They would normally have been sent back on the next plane to back home but instead were able to fly to Finland to try to get new visas with the correct dates. They did get the visas and paid a hefty price for tickets(no discounts) and the same day service for the visa but discovered the new visa was wrong. That is when they descovered the intivations were wrong and the consulate had used the dates on the invitations instead of the dates the couple wrote in their applications. The invitation from the 3rd party visa service had given the wrong dates on the invitation. They had worthless visas and no way to fix them and no way to join their rather expensive tour already a day late. I suggested they contact the real host who issued the invitation, not the 3rd party reseller, and have a new invitation faxed directly to the consulate with dates that bracketed the tour dates by at least a week on either side. The couple could not read Russian so never knew who the real sponsor was or the wrong dates. The Russian tour company listed on the invitation did send a new invitation immediately, about 2pm. but I had to leave to get train tickets by 3:15pm so I never found what the solution was. Regardless, they would have had to stay another night in Helsinki to pick up a new visa if that could even be done, and pay for additional same day service. All told, the invitation in error from a 3rd party cost them 1/2 their St Petersburg time and well over $1000. This is but another example of why I say; get the visa yourself, you know and care about whether the information provided is correct. If they had gotten the visas themselves from the local consulate all this wasted time and money would have been prevented. The 3rd party did not know the details of the tour, and errors in communications between the visa service and the travel agent were not discovered until the immigration officer denied them entry. This type of problem occurs all the time, so people who know better never let unneeded hands get involved with their applications.

Rules to follow:

1.Get invitations directly from your host, either hotel or Russian tour operator, or inviting business if applying for a business visa..

2 Apply for the visa directly to your nearest Russian consulate and fill out the simple application form yourself.

With these two rules, 80% of visa problems are eliminated, plus a a considerable amount of money is saved.

10. Re: Visa requirements

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