Passports and Visas

Alana
I can carry my own luggage

If you decide to date an Eastern European Woman, sooner or later you are going to have to deal with passports and visas.  Good news for American Men as visa-free travel to the Ukraine is possible since 2007.  This is a mixed bag of benefit and disadvantage: if you are trying to meet a Ukrainian Woman, it makes life a lot easier.  If you are thinking of meeting Ukrainian Women, realize that there will be more competition as travel to Ukraine is easier – remember, “In the land of the blind, the one eye’d man is king.”  I would say that travel to Kazakhstan and Belarus are probably the hardest so if you are looking to hunt where there are fewer hunters, you may consider one of these destinations.

Belarus (Belorussia or “White Russia”) is full of beautiful Russian Women as is Kazakhstan (about 1/2 of the population is Kazakh (cousins of the Turkish) and the other 1/2 are Russians.  Stalin wanted to make it harder for any of the outlying Republics to get ideas of independence so he fostered a Russian colonization program and you’ll find plenty of Russians in any of the old USSR States & Republics.

For most nationalities, a visa is required for travel to Belarus  Russia, Kazakhstan and other Eastern European FSR (Former Soviet Republics) countries.  I highly recommend that you use a Visa service when applying for your visas unless you live in a city that has an embassy or consulate of the country that you plan to visit.  If you can personally drop off and pick up your passport you will always have positive control of it – the same goes for sending your passport, via FEDEX, to an agency who will hand walk it in to the embassy, personally pick it back up, and then FEDEX it back to you.

I once had the Chinese Embassy mail my passport and visa back in the regular mail and the postman lost it.  Only after two days of looking did the postal employees find it behind a cabinet in the post office.  While this says a lot about the difference between “for profit” businesses versus bureaucratic Federally sponsored agencies says a lot, but I’ll save that conversation for another day.

As I travel a lot for work, I am always fighting to beat some time deadline to submit my passport for a visa to travel to Russia.  On this last trip, I had to delay my trip a week while my visa was processed.  As this 3 week trip to Western Russia comes to a close, my girlfriend and I have agreed to meet again in January.  I will go home for Christmas and New Years to visit the family and then will return in early January in time to celebrate Russian (Orthodox) Christmas on 7 January.

And once again, I’ll have to FEDEX my passport for a new visa.

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The girlfriend suggested that I should apply for one of the new 3 year visas. I called my visa agent and he explained that a 3 year tourist visa allowed multiple entries for a period of three years but that the total of all visits cannot exceed 6 months.  He suggested a 3 year business visa that allows for up to 6 months in Russia for each year that the visa is valid.  He asked if I had “any business” in Russia and when I said that I “did” he suggested that I have a “business partner” issue me an “invitation.”  I had a Russian business buddy send me an invitation and I was on my way to a 3 year multi-entry visa.

But, a big problem surfaced.  I have only from 17 December until 2 January to get my visa.  The visa agent explained that it will take about a month to get the 3 year visa.  I remembered the info that Rob had given me on the flight from Odessa to Kiev – he has TWO American passports.  I inquired and found that I could apply for a second passport.  I wrote myself a letter asking the passport agency to issue me a second passport and they did!  I submitted both passports (at the same time) to the Russian Embassy – one for a 1 month tourist visa and one for a 3 year business visa.  Both were approved and I have plans to visit Russia in January and am able to process my 3 year visa while traveling.

I received this email from my visa agent:

Dear Traveler/Traveler Assistant
Your documents were received by on 12/21/2012.
The Visa application to Russia (Tourist, Double Entry) is estimated to be filed to the consulate on 12/17/2012 and estimated to be collected from the consulate on 12/22/2012.
The Visa application to Russia (Business 3 Year, Multiple Entry (3 Years)) is estimated to be filed to the consulate on 12/262012 and estimated to be collected from the consulate on 01/18/2013.
You will receive another email when this request is completed.

When I received my new 2nd passport, I received a form from the State Department that says:

Make sure that the correct passport is presented at each border control point.  If possible, arrange an itinerary that will allow you to carry only one passport when traveling to a country with restrictive visa or entry policies. The passport not needed for immediate travel should be left in a secure place for safekeeping. You should not assume that foreign immigration officials will not search your luggage or person. Generally, do not display both passports at the same time when crossing a border control point.

This all seems common sense – I suppose a border guard who sees you with two US passports may be a little suspicious.

If you are a frequent traveler, you may consider a 2nd passport.

If you are traveling to Russia often, you may consider a 3 year Russian Visa.  I think that this is going to make my travels to Russia much easier.  Now that I have a girlfriend over here, I expect to be coming more often.

Good luck in your search!

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Alana
I can carry my own luggage

2 thoughts on “Passports and Visas

  1. I received my 3 year multi-entry tourist visa last Tuesday via FedEx. It arrived a week before my flight to Saint Petersburg. My curositiy peaked a bit when I saw the option for a business visa, but I did not have any contacts in Russia.

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