Invitation to Russia
All applications for Russian visas (with the exception of a transit visa) require a specific visa support document – a visa invitation. This is often called ‘visa support’ or ‘invitation letter’, and must be issued by the party inviting you to Russia, whether a tour company, employing company, educational institution, relative, or a friend.
It is vital to bear in mind that the validity and type of Russian visa you are issued should be strictly adhered to. Once you are in Russia, you can neither change your visa status (e.g. from tourist to business, business to educational, or vice versa), nor extend the validity of your visa (except in an emergency). In order to do so, you will have to leave the country and apply for a new visa.
Our company can provide you with a single or double entry tourist invitation within 1 hour. Our rates are among the lowest offered online. We offer a 50% discount on tourist visa support for every client booking accommodation in one of our hotels (Greenwich, Silver Age, and Abat-jour), hostels (Friends hostels), or apartments.
Type of invitation: Tourist confirmation and voucher
Corresponding authority: A Russian tour company which is properly registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and possesses a valid ‘tour reference’ number. Make sure you are dealing with a reliable travel agency which can register you once you are in Russia and which will also provide other support services when you arrive.
Type of invitation: Business invitation
Corresponding authority: The local department of the Passport and Visa Service (PVU) of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (for paper invitations) or the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (for telexes). The sponsoring organization must be officially registered with the PVU in order to apply for an invitation (according to the corresponding Federal Law dated Nov 1, 2002).
Type of Invitation: Private invitation (izveshchenie)
Corresponding Authority: The local department of the Passport and Visa Service (PVU) of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs or OVIR. Allow 4–6 weeks for approval and obtain the original invitation to apply for a visa at the Russian embassy/consulate.
Type of Invitation: No invitation required
Corresponding Authority: Present your travel tickets and visa for your country of destination (if required).
Type of Invitation: Invitation issued by the ‘foreign department’ of the university/school
Corresponding Authority: The ‘foreign department’ of the university/school should take care of all the formalities. It submits the student’s data to immigration officials and will have a student invitation ready in 7–10 days. The invitation is then sent by post, fax, or telex direct to the embassy/consulate where the student is applying for his/her visa.
• It is always better to ask the Russian embassy/consulate directly whether they accept copies of invitations which have been sent to you by fax or email, or whether they only accept originals. You should specify this to the company or individual arranging your visa invitation to ensure that your invitation and visa are processed without any problems or delays.
• The cost of visas can vary, as well as the processing time. For instance, a tourist invitation costs about USD 30 and takes between one hour and one day to be issued, while a business invitation is more expensive (from about USD 50), as it requires some fees to be paid to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, and takes longer to issue (as a rule, allow 15–30 days).
• Please note that a letter from your friends or business partners cannot be regarded as official support documentation, and is therefore not valid for obtaining a Russian visa. An invitation can only be issued by a registered Russian travel agency or by a company or organization authorized by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
• Choose a trustworthy agency/company/partner to provide you with visa support. Before placing your order, make sure that the agency is easily contactable, and provides its address and a working phone number. Also check that it is well established, with several years’ experience of working with Russian visas, and will be able to register you in the city where you are staying. It should also be able to provide assistance in the event of an emergency.