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teukros

Re-visiting Russia

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Russia
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My first trip to Russia was from Jan 19 to Feb 7 of this year on a single entry tourist visa. Now I would like to plan a second trip in mid-May, largely for the purpose of having a non-legal ceremony at a church in my fiancee's home town so we can involve her family and friends. This should be 90 days (but just barely) if that matters.

Should I just apply for a second tourist visa the same way I applied for the first one? Is there anything I need to know? Am I worrying for nothing?

:unsure:

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Russia
Timeline
My first trip to Russia was from Jan 19 to Feb 7 of this year on a single entry tourist visa. Now I would like to plan a second trip in mid-May, largely for the purpose of having a non-legal ceremony at a church in my fiancee's home town so we can involve her family and friends. This should be 90 days (but just barely) if that matters.

Should I just apply for a second tourist visa the same way I applied for the first one? Is there anything I need to know? Am I worrying for nothing?

:unsure:

Yes, this should be mostly strait forward, just apply and register the same as you did before.


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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Russia
Timeline
Yes, this should be mostly strait forward, just apply and register the same as you did before.

Should I just put down that the purpose of the trip is "tourism" like I did before?

Mind you, I would like to see the interior of the Cathedral On the Blood...

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Russia
Timeline

I was little confused by your original post. Do you plan on staying in Russia around 90 days?

In that case you should apply for a private visa which will require your fiancee to go to the OVIR and make an invitation. The private visa is good for 90 days as all tourist visas are limited to 30 days. Also in my opinion registering a private visa is easier and gives you more flexibility than the tourist visa which favors hotel accommodations for each day you are in Russia. And a private visa is cheaper than a tourist visa based on the prices offered online for the invitation form. Although it does require a few more steps and you actually receiving the invitation.

Also be careful not to mention that you are "married" under the church-ceremony. Don't' bring any pictures of that "wedding" to US immigration officials to avoid unnecessary confusion.

Otherwise good luck! Lots of cool pictures on your site.

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Russia
Timeline
I was little confused by your original post. Do you plan on staying in Russia around 90 days?

No, I'll be there for about a week. But you touch on something I wanted to bring up anyway: For my second trip we are planning on spending minimal time in hotels, maybe just the first night, and the rest of the time (excepting travel) will be at her parent's place in Almetyevsk. Will this be okay? Or will I have to ask her to send me a letter of invitation? Will I have to register in Almetyevsk as soon as I arrive? (she was warning me today about the long lines of foreigners who want to work in the oil industry, which I would have to stand in in order to register my presence for a four day stay :( ).

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Russia
Timeline

No matter what visa you use if your stay is longer than 72 hours you must register. Since you are going to be staying in her home you will have to register at the OVIR, unless you can find a hotel that will do the registering for you without you having to rent a room there. This "scam" and go "around" of official registration laws has been tough to do as of lately. Also most OVIRs won't register a tourist visa anyway. I am shocked at the long wait. Usually the OVIR has special hours during the day when they register foreigners. Coming at the right time with all the documents filled out and bank slip paid will speed up the processes. Your fiancee should call there and find out the exact procedure to make things easier.

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Russia
Timeline

Even 2 Tourist visa's would not cover the length of your stay (30 - 90 days ?) What you want is a "Homestay" visa. This Visa is good for 90 days. Your Significant other will have to go the OVIR office

and arrange an invitation. You can find information about "Homestay" visa's on the Russian Embassy website.

If you plan to go in May, you should get started now. There is no telling how long the OVIR will take to issue an invitation. Then you will still have to apply to the Embassy.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Russia
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Does this mean I should NOT get a tourist visa? Will I need her to send me a letter of invitation?

Getting a homestay visa is nearly impossible now. (I've tried - it isn't worth the trouble). That being said, an un-registered tourist visa is not a major offense in Russia. My last one wasn't registered (I tried for two days, paid a few fines for going to the wrong offices, learned the hard way...) In the end, it didn't matter.

I think the best bet now is to either:

o get a business visa that can be registered anywhere. [Probably preferred by Russian authorities, since these cost more]

o get a tourist visa and don't register it. Worst case, you pay a 1,000 rbl fine if you get caught.

NEVER OVERSTAY A VISA. The penalty for this is serious. They won't let you leave Russia. For months.

In general, in Russia, plan on keeping a crisp $100 bill in your passport. If you get stopped on the street, it is best to give whoever is stopping you a "tip" for their trouble. $50 is reasonable outside of Moscow. FYI - the bribes I've paid in Russia have been for my wife's papers, not mine. Even her FSB connections haven't been enough to sort out these problems. They have helped for many other things, though.


2004-08-23: Met in Chicago

2005-10-19: K-1 Interview, Moscow (approved)

2007-02-23: Biometrics

2007-04-11: AOS Interview (Approved)

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Russia
Timeline

Others on here can post their experience about the difficulty or ease of registering a tourist visa at the OVIR. Like I said before, officially the OVIR should refuse to register tourist visas. If you do not plan on staying at a hotel go with the private visa. Email your fiancee a copy of your vital passport page and have her make the homestay invitation. It will take roughly 4 - 8 weeks to get the invitation letter to your fiancee. Then have her send a certified letter using Russian post. You should receive it about two weeks later. My estimates are based on my experience from the OVIR in Western Siberia.

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Russia
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Even 2 Tourist visa's would not cover the length of your stay (30 - 90 days ?) What you want is a "Homestay" visa. This Visa is good for 90 days. Your Significant other will have to go the OVIR office

and arrange an invitation. You can find information about "Homestay" visa's on the Russian Embassy website.

If you plan to go in May, you should get started now. There is no telling how long the OVIR will take to issue an invitation. Then you will still have to apply to the Embassy.

I think he said it would only be for a week.

As for the type of visa, I have done it both ways and I have found it was easier to get the tourist visa here in the states using one of the online services. The homestay visa requires the special invitation letter which she must apply for from the OVIR, wait for it, and then send to you. You will then send it along with your passport to the Russian embassy here for the visa. Time might well be an issue even if you start now.

I have never had any issues getting my tourist visa registered at the local OVIR.

You might have her ask around to find someone who knows someone at the OVIR (it's the way things get done there) that can help you get the process completed quickly.

And if you think you will be making more trips back within the year I might suggest looking into a mutiple entry business visa.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Russia
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will take roughly 4 - 8 weeks to get the invitation letter to your fiancee. Then have her send a certified letter using Russian post. You should receive it about two weeks later. My estimates are based on my experience from the OVIR in Western Siberia.

In the Central Region (Voronezh, Lipetsk) this is generally not possible. We have tried a few times. From what I have heard, Moscow is much easier.

(By not possible, I mean it would take 5-10 visits to various offices to get the necessary paperwork. In Lipetsk, they wanted letters from the police, employer, FSB, etc for the person sponsoring the invitation. Each of these letters would take the better part of a day to get). For us, the effort was more than for an I-129F and AOS combined. (hence, why we have never been able to get one).

As a side note, the folks at the local OVIR office were excited to meet me in Lipetsk. I was the fifth (#5!!!) American to ever try to register there. Ever. This is a city of half a million people. Many Italians, though. They still made me pay fines, though.


2004-08-23: Met in Chicago

2005-10-19: K-1 Interview, Moscow (approved)

2007-02-23: Biometrics

2007-04-11: AOS Interview (Approved)

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Russia
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(By not possible, I mean it would take 5-10 visits to various offices to get the necessary paperwork. In Lipetsk, they wanted letters from the police, employer, FSB, etc for the person sponsoring the invitation. Each of these letters would take the better part of a day to get). For us, the effort was more than for an I-129F and AOS combined. (hence, why we have never been able to get one)...

They still made me pay fines, though.

I guess the process for getting an OVIR invitation various widely by region. So much for Putin's centralization plans. My fiancee simply had to fill out a basic form, with a few details from my passport and get a slip from the government bank that she paid the fee. She did everything in less than a day. Then they actually called her when the invitation was ready for pickup.

Why did you have to a pay a fine? If you came within 72 hours not counting holidays and weekends there was no reason for that.

My favorite story at the OVIR was a Ukrainian pensioner visiting her kids in Siberia. She crossed the border into Russia by train on Monday but the train didn't arrive into Tomsk until Thursday. The officials made her pay a 1000 ruble fine for late registration. And Ukranians don't even need visas, they just need to register. She was fighting it out when I was there. I hope she won her case.

On a side note, my fiancee did have to affirm and sign that she was going to be my "sponsor" in Russia. It always makes me laugh because I am coming from America and end up spending more than she makes in a year in one month.

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Russia
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In general, in Russia, plan on keeping a crisp $100 bill in your passport. If you get stopped on the street, it is best to give whoever is stopping you a "tip" for their trouble. $50 is reasonable outside of Moscow. FYI - the bribes I've paid in Russia have been for my wife's papers, not mine.
Russ, you over paid drastically. I've paid for my wife's paper's as well. But 250 rubles ($8) in Novosibirsk and 100 rubles ($3) in Sochi. I would never give them anything more. I speak perfect Russian. I claim to be a poor student. I talk with them kindly. Joke with them about my experiences in Russia. Tell them how much they'd be respected in America and how much money they'd make. I even invite them over for tea. :P This tactic even got me out of a 300 ruble fine for making an incorrect left turn while driving because the sign was hanging about 100ft in the air and I couldn't see it! These officers know how much Russians make per month. It is unrealistic to ask for more. Only if the officer begins to insist that we go down to the station would I consider raising the bribe beyond 500 rubles. I've been to Moscow as well. And talking is the best, just as long as you are not in a hurry. And the best of course if to let your fiancee do all of it. And just sit back and watch. Don't be the "rich" American throwing his hard earned dollars around, unless it is absolutely necessary.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Russia
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Russ, you over paid drastically. I've paid for my wife's paper's as well. But 250 rubles ($8) in Novosibirsk and 100 rubles ($3) in Sochi. I would never give them anything more. I speak perfect Russian. I claim to be a poor student.

This was in Moscow. They had already searched my wife, so the question wasn't "how much will you give me," but "how much do you have." The took almost all the money in her wallet. The choice they gave us was pay, or be detained (and thus overstay my visa - we were going to the airport). This happened just outside the Kremlin.

Renewing her Russian passport was quite an ordeal (pay a fine for it expiring while you were in the US), Then keep paying fines if you get caught without it. (It took months to get a new one).

BTW - they did nothing about my un-registered visa. Didn't even give the registration card to passport control at the airport.


2004-08-23: Met in Chicago

2005-10-19: K-1 Interview, Moscow (approved)

2007-02-23: Biometrics

2007-04-11: AOS Interview (Approved)

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