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(Yet Another) Visa Question

Amsterdam, The...
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(Yet Another) Visa Question

Me: US citizen, EU resident

Question: want to go to Piter this summer for about three weeks (been there before), partly to have a vacation, partly to take a language course, partly to do some research (I'm a writer). Assumed I'd get a tourist visa, as I'll be there under 30 days, and the language program says that many students come on tourist visas - and not for nothing, it's 100 euro less than the business visa.

Now, the visa service that I thought I'd be using in my country of residence says, "you really shouldn't be using a tourist visa, this could get you in trouble - you really should be getting a business visa, because you're not going as a tourist." They said they'd get me the tourist visa, but advised against it, and said they're not responsible if there's trouble.

My first reaction was to think that they were clearly just trying to sell me the more expensive visa, because I just can't imagine how anything I'm planning on doing in Piter - museums, library, language school - would cause problems with border control in any way. But should I be concerned about this?

Thanks in advance for any input.

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Plymouth, Minnesota
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1. Re: (Yet Another) Visa Question

I'll muddy the waters further...if you get a visa as a US citizen, why not go for the 3 years, multi-entry? I personally would do tourist, but heck, its not me they'll throw in jail!

Moscow, Russia
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2. Re: (Yet Another) Visa Question

> My first reaction was to think that they were clearly just trying to sell me the more expensive visa

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.©

Find another visa service (or DIY if you want it done right) and do listen to what Ebertsj says.

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3. Re: (Yet Another) Visa Question

Hi, thanks.

The reason I don't go for the 3-year, is that it's much more expensive - and I don't know that I'll be going back enough (or at all) to justify the cost.

And honestly, I'm not sure if you're joking at the end ("...it's not me they'll throw in jail"). Yes, I assume you are - but the point of my posting is to ask whether or not getting the tourist visa is going to be a problem, so your answer still leaves me with questions.

Edited: 28 May 2014, 09:42
Amsterdam, The...
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4. Re: (Yet Another) Visa Question

<<Find another visa service (or DIY if you want it done right)>>

Because they are "stupid"? Unfortunately, I don't know how to DI(M) - if I did, I would.

<<do listen to what Ebertsj says>>

As noted, I'm not sure what he's saying, as I can't read the tone (joking or not)

Moscow, Russia
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5. Re: (Yet Another) Visa Question

> The reason I don't go for the 3-year, is that it's much more expensive

One more reason to find a competent visa service or invest some time in reading the actual regulations and visa fees - the difference in price is $20.

> the point of my posting is to ask whether or not getting the tourist visa is going to be a problem

I personally don't see any problem at all - the main goal of your visit is tourism and as one of your tourist activities you are going to entertain yourself with taking a short-term language class. It's not like you are enrolling in a university or something. Do those who attend a one-day matryoshka-painting class or a pelmeni cooking class or a vodka drinking class need to apply for business visas now? Gimme a break.

Moscow, Russia
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6. Re: (Yet Another) Visa Question

> Unfortunately, I don't know how to DI(M)

Reading the visa FAQ in the Russia forum and locating the web site of your nearest consulate might be a good start. Dozens if not hundreds of posters to this forum have done it themselves, it's no rocket science.

Amsterdam, The...
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7. Re: (Yet Another) Visa Question

<<One more reason to find a competent visa service or invest some time in reading the actual regulations and visa fees - the difference in price is $20.>>

There are 2 in my area; I've contacted them both. And the difference of $20 is for the DIY version, I assume; it's certainly not the difference in cost at either of the agencies I've contacted.

<<Do those who attend a one-day matryoshka-painting class or a pelmeni cooking class or a vodka drinking class need to apply for business visas now? Gimme a break.>>

Indeed not. As noted in my first post, the language school itself informed me that many short-term students come on a tourist visa. I was simply asking if anyone thought there was any merit to the visa service's suggesting there is some sort of problem with this.

<<Reading the visa FAQ in the Russia forum and locating the web site of your nearest consulate might be a good start. Dozens if not hundreds of posters to this forum have done it themselves, it's no rocket science.>>

Our closest consulate is 2 hours away, by train. And I have of course read through the posts in numerous fora here before posting my question - but after spending an hour looking for *recent* posts about situations which mirror mine, I thought it might be more expedient just to ask a very specific question - and that someone might be able to give me an answer. Alas, I need to get the visa quickly and, with my work schedule, I don't have endless hours to spend on it.

Thanks.

Edited: 28 May 2014, 10:15
Moscow, Russia
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8. Re: (Yet Another) Visa Question

<<One more reason to find a competent visa service or invest some time in reading the actual regulations and visa fees - the difference in price is $20.>>

> There are 2 in my area; I've contacted them both. And the different of $20 is for the DIY version, I assume.

The difference is in the consulate fees for US citizens: $140 vs $160 (http://www.ruscon.org/visa_dep_eng.html#generalinfo ). Even if you apply in Amsterdam, the consulate will still apply these fees as you are an American.

As for the visa service fees - I can't fathom why an invitation for a three-year visa should cost more than an invitation for a single entry visa because it's exactly the same piece of paper. Probably what's going on here is that Dutch visa agencies are mostly used to working with Dutch citizens but the rules/fees are different for US citizens wherever you apply, and those Dutch agencies might simply be out of their depth here.

If you won't be able to find a local agency having any idea of what they are doing, consider following:

1. Order an invitation from any online provider. Bring it to the consulate yourself.

2. Send your passport and invitation to the US by express mail.

Moscow, Russia
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9. Re: (Yet Another) Visa Question

>> whether or not getting the tourist visa is going to be a problem

Legally if your declared purpose of visit is language course then according to classification (http://base.garant.ru/12134972/, in Russian, section 5 item 63) you need 90-days General Student visa. Practically, let's see. This visa applies to all possible cases of study including entering a University and will require proper invitation which you may or may not easily receive from the training company. I think that this is not a big trick to say that your purpose of visit is tourism (which it certainly is). P.S. As we all understand, migration service usually has no interest in people capable of paying their own expenses.

Edited: 28 May 2014, 10:29
Amsterdam, The...
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10. Re: (Yet Another) Visa Question

Thanks for the information.

Indeed I have no idea why they prices are so different; they have quoted me 55/150/200/300 euro for a tourist/single-entry business/double-entry business (3 month)/1 year multi-entry business visa, respectively. And they say the cost is for the *invitation*.

<<Order an invitation from any online provider>>

I'm honestly not trying to be thick, but I'm not exactly sure what you mean here. I've done the usual google search and have indeed come up with many providers offering invitation letters (many from the UK), but then I would have the same general question as in my original post: are these types of invitations likely to cause problems (the same way that a tourist visa might/might not cause problems).

The cost of sending the passport express mail (with insurance) to and from the US might make the price the same as what I'd pay here.

Please understand that there are many people who by dint of ethnicity/race, national origin, physical appearance, family name, religion, gender/sexuality, public profile - or any number of other possible reasons - are more likely to be more closely scrutinized at borders, airports, etc. Based on my own personal experiences, I'm simply trying to avoid any possible problems.