Russian tourist visa 'invitations'

Discussion in 'Your Questions' started by RooFlyer, May 3, 2014.

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  1. RooFlyer

    RooFlyer Enthusiast

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    When I visited Russia last year, for a conference, I got an 'invitation' from the conference for a 'humanitarian/scientific' visa to Russia, and it covered the entire period of our stay - including three days before and three days after the conference.

    Now I intend to visit Russia again, purely as a tourist, staying three days in St Petersburg and three days in Moscow. I e-mailed the StP hotel for an 'invitation' and they replied very promptly, but it only covers the period when I'm staying with them and they say in an e-mail that I should get another 'invitation' from the hotel in Moscow.

    I thought the 'invitation' was only related to one visiting Russia, in general, and related to the date of entry. On the Russian visa form there is space for only one invitation number and invitation-issuer registration number (the hotel or organization).

    I'm not looking forward to having to call the Consulate and asking for clarification; in the meantime can anyone shed any light on the situation? Do you really need invitations covering every day of your time in Russia and if so, how do you put all of them on the (electronic) visa application form?
     

  2. Mwenenzi

    Mwenenzi Established Member

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  3. RooFlyer

    RooFlyer Enthusiast

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    Ah, true, thanks; forgot about that one. :oops:

    I believe mods still do move mis-placed posts so rather than cross post I'll just see what happens.
     
  4. n7of9

    n7of9 Member

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  5. Happy Dude

    Happy Dude Active Member

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    Wife and I used visalink in 2010 for a 30 day tourist trip and can say that visalink indeed made it easy.

    However, we did not have to provide any flight or accommodation details, only entry/exit ports and dates (we wouldn't have had a copy of our air ticket (a LONE4) to give when we applied for the visa). Our actual itinerary bore little resemblance to the cities we put on the form. For two people, their price was $110 plus the visa fee of $345 (which was billed by another entity). I'd use them again. Have a great trip.
     
  6. anat0l

    anat0l Enthusiast

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    One way that I read from a Flyertalk forum search which sounds silly but seems legitimate is that you make a booking for, say in this case St Petersberg, at the hotel for 28 days or what not (I believe 30 days is the longest that can be applied for a tourist visa). Using this booking, request the letter of invitation from the hotel and use this for the visa application.

    Once the wheels are in motion, book (or rebook) your accommodation accordingly. On the other hand, if you already have bookings, just book the 'long' booking (on a flexible rate) for getting the invitation then cancel it once you have the visa.

    Apparently this is a well-known (but, again, supposedly legitimate) loophole for obtaining a visa of accommodating length. As well, apparently, your visa is to endorse your time in Russia, but not specifically for the time you spend in particular places in Russia. Yes, you need to specify where you are going in Russia. But it's not likely you will be pinned to the wall if your visa was obtained with a letter saying you are in St Petersberg for 30 days, and then your schedule ends up being 3 days in St Petersberg and 3 days in Moscow. Of course, you are perfectly entitled to enter Russia after the start date of your visa and to leave Russia before the end date of your visa, without penalty. (And of course, if you try to enter Russia before the start or leave Russia after the end, you will be subject to the relevant unfortunate consequences).

    Don't forget that when you arrive in Russia, you will need to register your visa. Your hotel can (and will likely) do this for you, perhaps for a fee (small to modest), but of course it still boils down to your responsibility to ensure it is completed within 7 days of arrival in order to stave off the risk of being detained.
     
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  7. Happy Dude

    Happy Dude Active Member

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    This was not my experience. Once in the country we were free to roam wherever. My understanding was that registration was required only if you're in the one spot for more than 7 days. Also the OP will be in Russia for less than 7 days.
     
  8. Ansett

    Ansett Established Member

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    No You Must register when you enter based on my experiences traveling to Novosibirsk. I use a local Russian Travel Agent who organises everything and then the hotel does the registering with me.
     
  9. RooFlyer

    RooFlyer Enthusiast

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    Also my experience. Both our hotels last visit (3 nights each) registered us (and charged us for it :evil: ); they had no way of knowing what our total length of stay was (2 weeks including 1 week on cruise boat & conference).

    But any other offers re the necessity or otherwise of obtaining more than one 'invitation' for visa purposes - ie one for each hotel booked?

    Edit: Thanks for that tip anatol; too late for this time, unfortunately.
     
  10. shearsense

    shearsense Member

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    Technically you do not have to register if you are leaving within that time frame (it used to be 3 days, so it must have changed since I did FIFO there), but in practice you should absolutely register anyway as soon as you can. Otherwise it can be really hard to explain the rules to various officials who check your documents and may require a small "fine" - with no receipt given in return.
     
  11. shearsense

    shearsense Member

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    #11 shearsense, May 5, 2014
    Last edited: May 5, 2014
    Again technically correct (for example, when taking segments on the Transiberian you can change from place to place never exceeding the time limit to register). But don't do it unless unavoidable, because there is a real chance that somebody will check documents and want to argue the finer points law. In Russian.

    When you leave the country after having stayed cumulatively longer than the time period within which you should register and do not have the magic stamp(s) from OVIR in your passport, be prepared to explain to an airport immigration official that you moved from place to place within the time limit and have evidence for it. It happens on occasions, but not often. To a colleague of mine recently, and to me more than once before that. But that was a particular airport in Moscow.

    Some do indeed find the cheapest hotel to book, go there for a day to get the registration for their entire stay and then go wherever they want. But best to use a reputable Australian agency for the invitation and who will arrange a local agency to handle the invitation and registration for the entire stay on arrival. They may still push you to pay through the nose for a hotel booking for the entire period though, as it is easier for them. But there are in-country agencies that can do everything for you without the expensive hotel booking. You will need to go to their office at your destination city and probably need at least an overnight stay to allow for registration processing.
     
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  12. dmitri

    dmitri Active Member

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    #12 dmitri, May 5, 2014
    Last edited: May 5, 2014
    Roo flyer, I was in Moscow and St. Petersburg in December last year for a holiday. I had to get invitations from both hotels I stayed at for the visa requirements (Intercontinental-Moscow and W-St. Petersburg) and hand them over in printed form with the printed out on-line visa form. It cost $120 per passport for me and the wife to get the stamp. It took 10 days to get the stamps and you have to leave your passport at the consulate. At the Sydney consulate, there is a $120 for 10 day wait for the stamp or $240 for 5 day turn around I think.
     
  13. RooFlyer

    RooFlyer Enthusiast

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    Excellent advice, thanks.

    What are "the magic stamp(s) from OVIR in your passport" ? Do you mean there should be a stamp in your passport for each stay ?

    Last visit, as I mentioned we stayed at a hotel for 3 nights, then went on a conference cruise for 6 nights, then another hotel for 3 nights. Our 'invitation' for visa was arranged by the conference covering the entire stay. Each hotel and for the cruise we just gave over the passport for an hour or so for 'registration'. I just noticed there is one stamp over the stick-in visa, hard to read but it has the number 708 in the 2 bottom corners. There are separate airport arrival/departure stamps on other pages.

    in theory, should I have received 3 stamps, one each for my separate stays?

    ps in answer to my original question, advice is yes, get the second invitation from my second hotel, put the first invitation numbers in the visa application, but attach both to the paperwork and passport when they are sent to the consulate.
     
  14. RooFlyer

    RooFlyer Enthusiast

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    Thanks Dmitri. Didn't see that before my last reply, and it sounds the same :). I use Toll Visa Direct and their courier/submission/pick-up service return from my place in Tasmania. Consular fee for 11 working days turn-around quoted as $120 plus $50 for courier. ($240 fee for 3 working days).

    It'll be a 2 week turn-around exercise for me, which is why I got a second passport last year :)
     
  15. dmitri

    dmitri Active Member

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    Good luck with the process, the visa sticker is my favourite stamp on my passport- taking up a whole page
     
  16. shearsense

    shearsense Member

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    In theory, yes. You may find that the stamp was altered with the extended dates each time, if they didn't actually add another stamp. Or the first number may have been attached "in the system" to subsequent numbers. It is quite an antiquated system that often involves manual changes, and in previous times could be as strange as a loose piece of paper inserted into the passport! I had 4 or 5 loose sheets on one trip before I lost one (with the resultant headaches at the airport) and decided subsequently to get my registration for my entire stay in one go through a Moscow-base agency. Doubled the cost of the visa application process through the agency, and so I suspect that they probably use some roach-hotel at $10/day to register me. Still worked out to be cheaper than booking "western-style" hotels as I was able to use apartments at half the price (which would normally be painful without an existing registration). But the process is a little opaque, and even though my Russian is passable, I am not completely sure what happens behind the scenes. Laughably, there was a push to actually require an "deregistration" when leaving a city for another for business visas a few years ago, but I never actually saw that in action so I think it died a rightful death. As with all things bureaucratic in Russian, it depends on the day of the week, the prevailing wind direction and the mood of the official you encounter, so you can never have too many stamps and documents to overcome this.
     
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  17. shearsense

    shearsense Member

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    Sounds about right. Apart from once the Embassy in Canberra refused to release my passport with visa because there was "no authority" for the courier to pick it up. :-| Meaning it was delayed a few days until the day before my flight. But that was a random hiccup with no cause or reason. Mostly it goes smoothly according to schedule. Thankfully I got a multi-entrance visa for my most recent FIFOs so I haven't had to apply for while.
     
  18. shearsense

    shearsense Member

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    I am quite proud of my Uzbek visa sticker in my previous passport, as there was no Uzbek Embassy in Australia. Looks quite similar to the ones from all ex-Soviet countries that still require visas, including Russia.
     
  19. RooFlyer

    RooFlyer Enthusiast

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    The best thing I like (not!) about the Russian visa application is the requirement to list "all countries visited in the past 10 years". That got my attention, as these days I make about 6 to 8 trips from Australia per year, with about 25 separate entries into a foreign country pa. 10 years worth! This visa question gave me a new appreciation of the AFF Flight Tracker!

    Happy to say the visa questionnaire ran out of space before I got to the bottom of my list!

    As I think everyone who applies fro a Russian visa knows, the Russians end up knowing more about you and your family than even your family!
     
  20. kpc

    kpc Senior Member

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    Having just applied (and got back 2 days ago) for Russian visas for the 3 of us, the Q above really annoyed me, especially the request for date of entry as well...I had to collate the info for 3 people!!:evil: It seems that once you have added about 28 countries to the online form, the add button greys out, and you can't add any more countries!!
     
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