Applying for a Russian (student) visa

I’ve applied for a visas for many different countries but this one was certainly the most complicate one…by far. Generally, citizens from most countries need a visa to enter Russia and one of the most important things to know about this in general is that it will take time. This basically means that you need to plan your visit far enough in advance and plan enough time to apply for the visa and then for the application to be processed. Personally, I applied for a student visa when I came to Russia for university but there are a lot of similarities and many of the same requirements as most (or even all) other visa types. I will try and give you a bit of an oversight first and then go into each point in a bit more detail so that the process is hopefully easier for you get through and less frustrating than it was for me.

To apply for most types of Russian visas you will need the following:

  • A filled out online visa application 
  • The address of where you’ll be staying in Russia
  • Health insurance that’s valid in Russia (and the English or Russian translation thereof)
  • An invitation letter
  • Students will perhaps need an additional letter from the university
  • A passport photo in colour 
  • Confirmation of payment for the visa (especially if applying via post)
  • Consent form for data processing
  • Acknowledgment form for submission of content
  • And of course, your original passport
One of the amazing places to visit in Russia, St. Petersburg
Online visa application form

For your online visa application form, you can go to this site . You can start your application and save it at any stage and return to it as long as you note your application ID and password. I’d recommend starting the visa application process of filling out this form as it also gives you some insight into what information you’ll need to provide. At the same time, however, filling out this application completely will also probably be the final step of the application.

This application will go through your personal information, the reason for your visit and more detailed information about your time in Russia. You will be asked to specify what type of visa you require quite near to the beginning of the process as this could determine what other pieces of information are required. Once you’ve filled everything out, you will need to print out the form and sign it with the date and your signature.

There are generally three different types of visa entry conditions when travelling to Russia: single, double or a multiple entry visa. These entry conditions tell you how often you can enter Russia using this visa. Student visas for example are issued as a 90-day single entry visa and are then extended to be a multiple entry visa. This means that if you leave Russia within the first 90 days, you won’t be allowed to re-enter using this visa and this could cause you some complications. To get your visa extended, your university will request that you hand in your passport with a few other documents that they will get for you and a passport photo about 5 weeks before your first visa runs out. Keep this in mind as this means that you won’t have a passport with you for this period of time which could come with restrictions.

Health insurance

The required health insurance confirmation for a visit to Russia is basically just a very general travel health insurance document. Most insurance companies will know exactly what you need when you mention your travel plans to them and will – in most cases – also supply you with an English or Russian translation if this is not the language your insurance documents are issued in anyway. Of course, travel insurance is always recommended for any visit abroad but this is not a legal requirement for the visa. Regarding student visas, the university will usually offer to supply you with an appropriate health insurance in case you have any issues with getting this in your own country.

Invitation letter

Now, the invitation letter can be a make-or-break point when it comes to the timing of your visa application process. Depending on the type of visa you’re applying for, you will either be receiving an invitation letter anyway or you’ll have to sort one out. If you’re applying for a tourist visa, you will have to buy one for example from this website . However, if you’re planning on travelling on a student visa, the university in Russia will be issuing your invitation letter for you. This can take quite a lot of time and may require some following up on your point as the organizational procedures in Russia can be extremely chaotic and things can be forgotten very easily. Next to your invitation letter, the university will probably also issue a letter confirming your enrolment at the university in Russia that you should include in your visa application.

Passport photo

This step is quite an easy one. You simply need a passport photo printed in colour sized 3,5cm x 4,5cm. Depending on what you plan on doing in Russia but especially if you’re going as I student, be sure to take more than one photo. On sight, you will need multiple photos for various IDs and documents. My advice, when you go to take and/or print this passport photo, get at least 6 of them that you can take with you. Also, maybe don’t print them on particularly glossy paper as the Russians prefer to use mat photos for their various documents. 

Payment confirmation

As with any visa application, you will need to pay for the privilege to apply for the visa required to enter Russia. You will probably need to pay for the visa process before it starts – that is, if you plan on applying by post. The price will completely depend on when you want your visa issued by, where your from and what type of visa you’re applying for. I can’t really give much more detailed information on this but there are some websites and tips below that can help you find out more details about the amount.

Various confirmation documents

In addition to all your preprepared documents, you may also need to fill out and sign a couple of other documents that are basically formalities for processing the application. 

These documents are only required depending on your nationality and also it will depend on if you’re applying in person or by post. I applied by post and had no problems with any of the process.

Original passport

Finally, you will need to hand in your original passport that should be valid for at least 6 months after the visa will expire and it must also have at least 2 blank visa pages.  

In summary, my advice when applying for a Russian visa is to be patient (or at least try and be) and give yourself enough time to sort everything out. Not only will you need time to get all the afore mentioned things but the Russian embassy will also have to process everything accordingly. It may also be helpful to ask a local travel agent for help as the visa requirements vary from country to country (including the cost) and the documents and information required can also change at any time. 

When applying for my visa, I also found this website quite helpful. So if you’re still missing some info after reading through this post, you may be able to find some more tips here.

If you’re interested in more info on Russia, other destinations, packing tips or general travel advice, check out some of the other articles and stay tuned for more! In case your questions aren’t answered here, or you have any comments or personal experiences you’d like to share, don’t be afraid to get in touch, comment and let me know. 

You can also follow @megsplaces on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook for regular updates, pictures, story polls and video clips!

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