Frequently Asked Questions
Select a topic below to view specific questions and answers.
- Why do I need to use Travisa Outsourcing?
- When can I apply?
- Purpose of Trip
- Transit Visa
- Residency Requirements
- Itinerary Required
- Work/Study Visa
- Minor Children
- Processing Time and Fees
- Credit Card Questions
- Visa Validity
- Emergency Visas
- Troubleshooting the Online Visa Application
- Reprinting Your Visa Application
- Documents to Include
- Passport Requirements
- Russian Origin
- Photo Requirements
- Official Invitation
Why do I need to use Travisa Outsourcing?
Question: Last time I sent my application to the Russian Embassy to process. Why do I need to send it to Travisa?
Answer: The Consular Division of the Russian Embassy no longer accepts applications by mail. They prefer that customers use our visa service to submit the applications in person. This is beneficial to both the consulate and to you as the applicant. Professional Travisa consultants will review your application carefully before submitting your paperwork to the Russian Consulate, to ensure the fastest most accurate processing. Our consultant will contact you immediately if there are any problems with the materials or incomplete information. We deliver each application in person to the consulate and work directly with the Russian visa officer during the entire process.
When can I apply?
Question: How early can I apply?
Answer: In general, Russian visa applications should be submitted up to 90 days in advance. If you have a particular reason that you must submit the application more than 90 days in advance (such as travel that will keep you out of the United States during the months before your trip to Russia) please contact us and we can make special arrangements for you. Otherwise, within 90 days before your departure is a good time to submit your application.
Purpose of Trip
Question: I am going to visit/stay with a friend in Russia, but they can't get the invitation. Can I just apply as a tourist?
Answer: If the friend is a Russian citizen, in order to stay in a private residence, a homestay/private visa is required. In this case, your host would need to obtain an original homestay invitation from the local office of the Russian Federal Immigration Service. If the friend is a foreigner working/studying in Russia, then your host would need to obtain a "guest visa" invitation through their employer or school in Russia. Travisa can possibly assist you if the host has problems obtaining the proper invitation so then contact us in this case.
Question: I am on a cruise and would like to separate from the tour group. How do I get an invitation?
Answer: If you want to part from the tour group, you will need to get an invitation from the cruise company. Please contact your cruise company to obtain visa support confirmation to separate from the cruise tour group.
Question: I have deceased relatives and I would like to visit and pay my respects. Who issues the invitation in this case?
Answer: Contact the cemetery and ask them to send a verification letter that the relatives are buried in the cemetery. You will also need to prove kinship to the deceased through marriage/ birth certificates. These will be your invitations for a private visa.
Question: I heard that I have to register in Russia, how do I do that?
Answer: All foreigners who visit Russia and the length of stay will exceed 3 business days must be registered with the local Russian government office within 72 hours of arrival in Russia. For tourist visitors staying in hotels, the hotel will take care of this for you. However, if you are staying with a private individual, then register at the local office of the Federal Immigration Service.
Question: I am going to stop in Russia on my way to another country; do I need a transit visa?
Answer: There are many factors to determine whether a transit visa is required for Russia. A transit visa is required if remaining in Russia more than 12 hours, if departing the airport terminal to change planes, if passing immigration for any reason or if changing to a domestic carrier including a flight to Belarus or a Russian or Belarus airline. If the airlines change terminals - including Sheremetyevo-1 to Sheremetyevo-2 in Moscow for example - a transit visa is required. It is important to confirm with the airline you are flying on to determine whether a transit visa will be required.
Question: Can I apply with Travisa even though I am living in another country?
Answer: As a US citizen, you can send your visa application to Travisa for processing here in the United States. Please keep in mind that the additional international shipping time when you select regular or rush processing options. We will also need you to enclose a prepaid return FedEx international airbill or to authorize us to charge you for the international shipping cost to return your passport (the cost depends on your shipping address). In all other ways, the process is the same as if you were currently in the United States.
Question: I haven't booked my ticket yet; can I send my application without the itinerary?
Answer: In some cases for emergency same-day processing, the itinerary (or a tentative itinerary) is required. You do not need to purchase tickets or confirm and pay for hotel bookings before your visa is issued. The Russian visa will be issued according to the dates specified on your invitation or voucher and confirmation. However, once the visa application is submitted the entry and exit dates on the visa can not be changed. Therefore, you will have to purchase tickets for travel within the period of stay specified by your visa.
Question: I need a visa to work/study in Russia, where can I find the instructions?
Answer: The Russian Embassy processes work and study visas under the category of Business. If you select the type of visa as Business to locate the instructions on our web-site, you will find the complete list of instructions including specific information for work or study.
Question: I am traveling with my family including minor children. Is there anything special I need to submit for their visa applications?
Answer: Each traveler, including minor children, must have an individual visa in their passport. The application form and requirements are the same for minors as adults. The Russian visa application form can be completed and signed by a parent. In the case where a minor child's application is being submitted separately from the parents' applications, an original signed letter from the parent must be included authorizing the Russian consulate to issue the visa and explaining who the minor will be traveling with to Russia.
Processing Time and Fees
Question: What is the process to get a visa same day?
Answer: Same day visa applications must be received by the Outsourcing Office between 9:00am and 10:00am. Pickup for same day applications is usually between 4:30pm and 5:00 pm. Note that we do not guarantee the visa will be issued same day. Applications received after 10:00am will have the visa issued the following working day. Non-refundable tickets or reservations should not be purchased until all visas and passports are secured and in your possession.
Question: How long is the processing time if I mail in my application?
Answer: Applications sent by mail depend on the processing speed you chose. Typically the process is about 3 to 5 working/business days to process from the date of receipt.
Question: How much are the fees for visas?
Answer: The fee varies on the visa process requested. Please click on this link for all fees: View Consular Fees.
Credit Card Questions
Question: Is my credit card charged once I complete the online application?
Answer: No, your credit card information is only stored when completing the application. Your credit card is not charged until we receive the application in our office.
Question: If I complete multiple applications for myself, will I be charged more then once?
Answer: We will only charge the credit card for the application received, so any extra applications created online will not be charged.
Question: What date is my visa valid from?
Answer: The visa is valid for the specific dates authorized by the Russian authorities responsible for issuing the invitation.
Question: Is it possible to get an emergency visa issued?
Answer: Emergency visas are available only in life or death situations, such as a family member gravely sick in Russia. In such cases, the applicant should provide death certificate and kinship (marriage or birth certificate) in case of death. If gravely ill, then the head of the hospital must write a letter to explaining the situation and also provide kinship (marriage or birth certificate) Please note that a pending flight does not qualify for an emergency visa.
Troubleshooting the Online Visa Application
Question: What can I do if I'm having trouble completing the online visa application?
Question: I filled out more then one application for myself, will my credit card get charged for each application?
Answer: We do not charge your credit card until we physically receive your passport, application and all related materials. So, if you complete a second application we will not charge the first one.
Reprinting Your Visa Application
Question: If I completed the online application, but the visa application PDF did not appear on the print page, what should I do?
Answer: Most often, this occurs when there are problems with the Adobe Reader on the computer. We suggest trying to reprint the application by going to Track Your Passport, entering the application id and last name, and then clicking on 'Reprint Application Here'. If that does not work, try using a different computer to reprint your application in Track Passport.
Documents to Include
Question: Do I really need to send in my passport?
Answer: The visa itself is a sticker that is placed on a page in your passport. The signed passport is required to be submitted to obtain a visa to Russia.
Question: What kind of photos do I need?
Answer: You need to include one passport photo.
Question: What is the official invitation?
Answer: All Russian visa applications must be submitted with an invitation. This document can be provided by your host in Russia or in some cases Travisa can obtain a business invitation or tourist voucher and confirmation for you. This is an official visa support document; it is not the same as hotel reservations or a letter from a private citizen in Russia.
Question: How many blank pages do I need in my passport for a visa, do amendment pages count?
Answer: You need two full blank pages. Amendment pages do not count as they are for State Department use only. If you need pages to be added to your passport, call the National Passport Service to set up an appointment at (800) 375-5283.
Question: My passport expires soon, can I get a visa?
Answer: Your passport must be valid for at least six months. If it expires in even a day less than six months from the date of application, a visa will not be granted.
Question: I was born in Russia / USSR. I have since become a US citizen. Do I need to anything special to apply for a visa?
Answer: Former Russian / USSR who have obtained another citizenship may be asked to prove that they have gone through official procedures of renouncing Russian citizenship. An example is to show canceled/voided Russian/USSR national passport with/or a visa stamp to country proving they left for "permanent residence abroad".
Question: What type of photos do I need?
Answer: An actual, passport style photo is required. The photo must be on photo paper, not a digital print or color copy. It should be 35 mm X 45 mm (1 3/8 inch x 1 3/4 inch), taken within the last 6 months and the background should be plain white or light colored. The applicant should not wear glasses in the photo unless the photo in the original passport includes glasses. Photos with glasses must not have glare or reflection in the lenses.
Question: What is the official invitation?
Answer: All Russian visa applications must be submitted with an invitation, this is an official visa support document. For a tourist visa, this is called a voucher and confirmation, which can be provided by your hotel or Travisa can obtain a tourist voucher and confirmation for you. For business travel, an official business invitation from the host company or sponsor in Russia is required. This document can be provided by your business contact in Russia or Travisa can obtain a business invitation for you. Homestay, Work and Student visas require an original invitation document that your host must obtain from the local office of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and send to you for you to attach to your visa application.
Click here to learn more about Russia Invitations.
Click here to Order your Russia Invitation.