The Russian government recently allowed citizens of 18 countries (https://www.rbth.com/news/2017/04/17/citizens-of-18-countries-can-visit-russias-far-east-without-visas_744357) to visit Vladivostok and the surrounding region without a visa. Unfortunately, the United States did not make this list, as its citizens are still required to obtain a visa in advance prior to any trip to Russia.
Russian Visa Requirements for US Citizens
Americans may find the visa process for visiting Russia a bit annoying, to say the least. While countries like Vietnam and Cambodia do require a visa to be obtained in advance, websites are available for e-visa purchases; Russia has yet to offer this, as the requirements are more complicated. However, it does provide a our other article that can be found here: https://www.travelvisapro.com/blog/russian-visa-requirements/ to fill out the application form, which must be printed and handed over in person.
As with many other countries, all visitors must have their passport valid for at least six months and with at least two blank pages, two passport-sized photos, and two copies of the visa application form. However, tourists to Russia usually have to register their trip with an official travel agency, which can provide a detailed itinerary and list the specific cities and addresses for each night of your stay. Independent travel is allowed in Russia, but hotel reservations must be confirmed before applying for a visa.
Where to Apply for a Russian Visa
Though anyone may make an appointment at a nearby Russian embassy or consular office and apply for a visa there, the Russian government sanctions five visa centers based in San Francisco, Washington DC, New York City, Houston, and Seattle. Appointments are required there as well, but because they deal exclusively with visa processing, there would be less of a wait time without Russian citizen services. However, there is an additional fee for using a visa center: $33.
Types of Visas to Russia
Tourist Visa: Single, double, and multiple entry visas (generally not available for first-time US citizens) are available for visiting Russia as a tourist for up to three months. See the requirements listed above.
Homestay Visa: Instead of providing a travel itinerary, applicants must have their hosts obtain a visa entitlement certificate from the local OVIR in Russia. The original must be submitted with all the aforementioned documents to obtain a homestay visa.
Transit Visa: Because the country spans such a large area, single and double entry visas are available for transit through Russia for any transfer exceeding 24 hours up to 30 days. No additional paperwork is required other than the application form, passport photos, and itinerary, but if you plan on transiting to a country that requires a visa, you’ll need to have this ready to apply for the transit visa. Even if you’re planning on transiting through Moscow for a few weeks with access to embassies, your passport needs to reflect your travel plans on arrival in Russia.
Business Visa: These visas to Russia are issued as three-year multiple entry for US citizens. In addition to all the standard paperwork, all applicants need to enclose a written statement from their host company or organization with detailed information.
Russian Visa Processing Time and Fees
Two types of processing are available for any visa: 4-20 business days (standard), and 3 business days (expedited). In general, you should expect expedited processing to cost twice as much as standard. More about time frames can be found here: https://www.travelvisapro.com/blog/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-a-russian-visa/ Standard fees are listed below:
Single-Entry Tourist and Transit Visas: $90
Double-Entry Tourist and Transit Visas: $144
Multiple-Entry Tourist and Business Visas: $270
If your passport has been replaced or renewed, the Russian government offers a visa replacement service for only $36, provided the visa has not yet expired. More info about Russian visa costs can be found here.
Travel Visa Pro and Visas to Russia
Travel Visa Pro was founded on facilitating the Russian visa process for business travelers. As a result, many of the staff across the country are experienced in expediting these applications and answering any questions you might have.