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Obtaining a Russian Visa

Leesburg, Georgia
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Obtaining a Russian Visa

My wife and I, plus two other traveling companions will be traveling to St. Petersburg starting the middle of June for a 5 day visit. I have looked at the Invisa website and have read all of their documentation concerning getting a Russian Visa. However, I do have a couple of questions that were not quite answered ..... and help would be most appreciated.

1. Can we go ahead NOW (March 2013) and send in the visa request, provided we have all of the appropriate visa information?

2. They request payment for both themselves (Invisa) and the Russian Consulate ... is this two separate "money orders" ($30 and $205)?

3. When mailing the documentation to Invisa, should my wife and I mail separately or just in one mailing?

Also, any other advice to make this process as smooth as possible would be most appreciated. I have found that when dealing WITH ANY GOVERNMENT, it is always somewhat of a trial.

Thanks in Advance

jhk49

Leesburg, GA

Leesburg, Georgia
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85 posts
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11. Re: Obtaining a Russian Visa

Well, I will start the process with using the ILS service. However, I do have one more question if you all could help.

The documents for a visa as specified by ILS include the following item:

7. Ticket with confirmed dates of entry and exit from Russia to obtain tourist visas to the citizens of the increased risk of migration (the dates on the ticket must match the dates of travel confirmation).

Is this to say that I have to present my plane ticket or copy thereof in the request documents for the Visa. I won't have this information until shortly before leaving.

Am I reading this correctly?

jhk49

Palmetto, Florida
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12. Re: Obtaining a Russian Visa

Hi,

Just my experience but I think this clause applies only to people of countries who are at risks of staying in Russia illegally (which countries those are I would not know). We did not buy air tickets until we got our visas.

I respect Stanj's experience but the reality is most people can't physically deal with ILS themselves (locations), and even if you are lucky to live near an office it would still be a hassle. I asked a family member to submit the applications for us at Washington DC ILS, and she did not have a pleasant experience.We told ourselves to use an agency next time, if there is a next time.

Pound Ridge, New...
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13. Re: Obtaining a Russian Visa

I live in the US Virgin Islands. Just did Invisa by mail to their Washington, DC, office. Couldn't have been more helpful!!! One check for both of us. I had two mistakes in the forms I filled out online and mailed to them. They sent me an email to call them and corrected the mistakes over the phone. They couldn't use UPS to send our passports and visas back to us so they took it upon themselves to send it USPS Express Mail. Couldn't have asked for more, from beginning to end. Not cheap but worth the small extra.

Plymouth, Minnesota
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for Moscow
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14. Re: Obtaining a Russian Visa

The last few posts indeed indicate that for many filks, trying to apply for visa using the ILS web site is in fact at best challenging, including simply stilted language and confusing, contradictory information...for example, no way do you have to have a plane ticket in advance.

but, ,that is not to say that for those who want to do things themselves, this cannot be done...quite a few people have done that...but I would say either In spite of ILS information, or thanks to some excellent advice from folks like Stanj here, and a bunch of us over at the Moscow Forum site...for something supposed to be that simple, the continuing flood of questions seems to indicate that something is simply not adding up...

Plymouth, Minnesota
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15. Re: Obtaining a Russian Visa

Note as a follow up to the comment "there is no longer a 45 day limit", and some other comments that folks did this before this deadline. I went directly to San Francisco ILS and "challenged" them on 45 days. After 2 weeks, and 2 follow up e-mails, I got a VERY snotty e-mail saying the rule IS 45 days, and while yes, exceptions are made, this does not change the rule. I am only writing this so that no one is lulled to sleep thinging they can automatically walk in any day with no regard to limits and submit application...

Bethesda MD
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16. Re: Obtaining a Russian Visa

On the other hand, ILS Washington told me that for their offiice it's now a common-sense rule: They'd accept applications much more than 45 days in advance, but if you were to show up as peak travel season is approaching and a lot of other applicants need fast turn-arounds, whereas you're way in advance, then they might ask you to wait.

Related question: When printing completed .pdfs of visa applications from the official website, they tell you to print actual size with no page scaling. But their original has such thin margins that the top of the eagle seal and the printing time stamp is in the margin area where printers (at least, the professional-quality color printers available to me) cannot print. ILS didn't answer their phone. I take it I should print full sized anyway, not scale to fit inside the printable area?

Edited: 19 March 2013, 21:07
Greenville
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17. Re: Obtaining a Russian Visa

Someone in this forum said it only takes 8 to 10 days to process the visa? Is that what most are finding? I am going in May, but before I go I have to go to Spain. Only have three weeks before I leave for Spain and I can't have the processing company hold onto my passport for 30 days. (which is the time the website says to process). Please advise. Thank you

Calgary, Canada
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18. Re: Obtaining a Russian Visa

Kari, you might want to pay for the express service. Mine is almost up to 2 weeks and it's not back yet. And then there's postage time.

This is being done in Canada, but we were also told that it's typically coming back within 10 days.

San Diego...
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19. Re: Obtaining a Russian Visa

We just completed the Visa application process. We received our visas back in about 3 weeks from the date we mailed our application package from San Diego to Washington, D.C. (recommended Russian consular office).

The application procedure is very detailed and they are very particular about everything. For example, all dates must be formatted as DD/MM/YYYY. You will need to have a voucher and an official letter of invitation from either your hotel, tour company, or cruise company. Also, you can include an additional $25.00 fee to obtain extra help from the INVISA Logistical Service staff. We decided to try on our own first but it is a time consuming process. If you are meticulous by nature and have enough time to correct errors, you will be fine. If not, I suggest paying the additional fee.

Try to get your voucher and invitation sent as a PDF digital document. Then you can copy text from it into google translate to help you fill in the online application.

This is a good website for a summary of what you need: http://www.ils-usa.com/mailing/

You can submit everything for all the people in your party in one package with one check to cover all expenses. Be sure to send it by registered mail or by some other tracked and insured method since you will be including your US passports.

Here is the list of items we included along with the print-outs of our applications plus a cover letter:

1. A valid passport for each applicant

2. One passport size photograph of each applicant glued to the corresponding application

3. Official letter of invitation and voucher for both applicants as required for a tourist visa

4. Cashier’s check payable to Invisa LLC in the amount of $470.00

5. Completed ILS Agreement Form

The cover letter must also specify:

Date of departure from the USA

Date of entry to Russia

Point of entry into Russia

Arrival details (mode of transportation and departure city)

Itinerary in Russia (all cities you will visit)

Date of departure from Russia

Point of exit from Russia

Departure details (mode of transport and departure city)

For each member of your party: NAME, DATE OF BIRTH, PASSPORT NUMBER, EXPIRATION DATE, PASSWORD for Online Application

Hope this helps!

Plymouth, Minnesota
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20. Re: Obtaining a Russian Visa

Excellent summary, but a wee bit confused/curious as to why DC was your recommended consulate office? There is one in San Fran as well, and I have always had good luck with them. Slight concern if everyone starts sending things to DC when there are 5 consulates is that over time, this would tend to swamp them and I have heard horror stories from several years back where I think it was DC that got backed up, and was taking 2-3 times the normal period to get visas done,,,

Also, just a word of caution...as good as this summary is, things can and do change, so I would strongly advise anyone applying to visit either the consulate they will be using, and/or the related, referenced ILS site as they do the processing. For example, when one reads all the detail at the site, you must have a least 2 blank visa pages, and think at least 6 months on passport left. You also mention voucher and "official letter of invitation", I have always seen this referred to as a voucher and confirmation. last, you mention an ILS agreement...not sure what this is, but for sure you need to submit the application after completing this on-line (the only one accepted).

One other nuance for anyone applying for a 3 year visa...if you only have say 1 year left on your passport, you will only have the visa be good for as long as your passport is current.

Edited: 23 March 2013, 00:39