Man… I struggled a bit with the Russian Visa… it seemed like depending on where I was looking online there were all kinds of different information, and even different costs listed! …but I finally got it taken care of. Here are the steps to success.
How To Get A Russian Visa
- Fill out the Russia Visa Application Form. Make sure you write down your application number in case you need to go back and edit the application, if you’re anything like me, you will.
- As part of your application you will need an invitation letter. If you already know where you will be staying, you can request this from your hotel (usually for free). If not, you can use a service for a cost of about $20. I used GoToRussia.com. Even if you want a multiple entry visa, you only need to request an invitation letter for a single entry visa.
- Have a passport size photo ready to go. Either get one taken, or do like Wanderlusty does and take your own! If you do your own visa photo – make sure that the photo is crisp with a light colored background or it may not be accepted.
- You can submit your application directly to the Consulate (if you are a US citizen), or you can go through ILS. Either way, you will pick your passport up after at ILS, but will not be charged the fee if you drop it off at the Consulate yourself. If you go through ILS, there is an additional $35 fee because they check your application for mistakes. I did happen to have a mistake in mine, so that was $35 well spent because otherwise my application either would have been declined, or I would have only been issued a single-entry visa, which would have been a bummer and would have cost me more in the long run.
- If you go through ILS and you need mail service, the total visa cost will be $263 for regular service. You are able to walk in and submit it by hand and save additional money that would have been required to send it there.
- If you are submitting through ILS, you do not need a cover letter to request a multiple entry visa; they will handle that for you. If you are submitting directly to the Consulate on your own, you will need to prepare a cover letter indicating why you would like to be issued a multiple entry visa. Something along the lines of you would like to have the opportunity to go back in the near future should be just fine.
Note: The Houston location requires additional documentation. Personally, I would probably avoid that and just apply through a different location.
Hopefully 6-10 business days after your application you will receive your passport back in the mail with a nice, shiny Russian visa inside! Mine just arrived yesterday with a beautiful “M” for multiple entry!
Thanks to Rapid Travel Chai for his additional notes on the application process.