I have been corresponding with a wonderful woman that I met at Elena’s Models and I am making active plans to go and visit her. Now comes the dreaded visa process. I really wish that Russia would learn from Ukraine – visa free travel to Ukraine (for Americans at least) makes coming and going a breeze. I got to experience the pain of applying for a Russian visa today. It isn’t a fun experience. I recommend that you use an agency – having a consulate or embassy lose your passport isn’t worth it – better to FEDEX to an agency and have them send it back the same way.
Unless you have an expensive multi-entry business visa, Russian visas are good for single, double or multi-entries. The visa is usually only good for 90 days but the total time spent in Russia has to be 30 days or less. The double entry visa is only good for visits to nearby countries: you could go Russia, to Ukraine back to Russia, but not from Russia to your home country and then back to Russia. You would need a multi-entry visa for that.
On 9 September 2012, Russia signed an agreement with America that allows American citizens to obtain a 3 year multi-entry visa. And the best part, you can stay for up to 6 months each visit! What a difference. Having to deal with Russian bureaucracy only once every 3 years – instead of each visit is great news.
I called several agencies and even the Russian consulate and it seems like they are still working out the details. But as of this writing, it is taking a full 15 business days (yes, that’s about 4 weeks “real-time”) to process these visas. And, unfortunately you can’t pay to expedite. For now, the near 1 month wait time “is what it is.”
I will only be about 2 weeks between trips so it looks like I’ll be going the old “traditional” route for my Russian visa. If anyone has any experience obtaining the new Russian visa, please leave a comment and let us know how it went.
The visa agency lady I talked to said that even expedited “traditional” Russian visas are taking 5-8 days because all visas are now processed by the ILS agency. As if the Russian consulate wasn’t slow enough, they had to introduce another layer. ILS lists the prices for the new visas:
Tourist 3 year multi-entry visa $235 in person, $300 if mailed. They list “expedited” prices of $505 for in person but say that these will only be issued in cases of extreme emergency (sickness or funeral).
Considering that a regular Russian visa costs about $350 – this sounds like a great deal, as long as you can part with your passport for a month.
As this visa becomes more well-known and popular it will probably be handled by many of the visa agencies (I could only find one that would accept the paperwork for it).
Will post more as it is known…
The use of copyrighted material in this website is protected by the Fair Use Clause of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, which allows for the sharing of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary, criticism and education. All shared material will be attributed to its owner and a link provided when available. All other stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and content on this site is copyright protected and is the property of the Western Women Suck blogpage, all rights reserved.