There are a lot of people in the United States who are interested in traveling to Russia and exploring its beautiful nature. The thing that stops the majority from actually going is the necessity of applying for a Russian visa, which costs money and sounds quite complicated to get.
That’s why here, in this post, I would like to explain and show you, step-by-step, what the process of getting a Russian visa is like and how to get it without any complications.
Why is it so complicated to get a Russian visa for the Americans/US residents?
It is actually not. What is complicated is to get a US visa in Russia where you have to go in person to one of the US consulates for an interview (and at the interview, they tell you if you’ll be granted a visa or not). A lot of Russians get denied when they apply for a US visa.
I lived in a city with no US consulate and every time I needed a US visa I had to fly to the closest consulate which is in Moscow and back just to apply for a visa and do the interview. And by the way, the cost of the Russian visa for the Americans is equal to the cost of the US visa for the Russians.
Likely, the process of getting a Russian visa for the Americans and Green Card holders living in the States is a lot easier. For example, you don’t necessarily have to fly to New York, Houston, or San Francisco to apply for a visa in person. The whole process can be done by sending required paperwork through the mail.
The process to obtain a Russian visa can be very simple if you use the right visa agency. I recommend “Let’s Russia” and will explain why below.
What is the best Russian visa service in the US?
Using a visa service is the easiest and the most recommended way to apply for a Russian visa. As I already mentioned before, all you’ll have to do is just send the paperwork and passport to the visa service company in the mail and you’ll receive your passport back in the mail as well.
There are a lot of companies and visa services out there so you might be wondering which company is the best to help you obtain a Russian visa in the United States. For example, there is an official visa center – ILS. Also, a lot of big travel companies offer Russian visa services – like Travisa, Passport and Visas, Visa HQ, CIBT visas and etc. The problem with these big companies is that they work with visas to many different countries – not specifically Russian visas and may not know answers in some specific cases.
One of the Russian visa companies which I personally recommend is “Let’s Russia”. It’s a smaller agency which specializes in visas to Russia. Here are a few reasons to work with them:
- “Let’s Russia” only works with visas to Russia and they exactly know how to obtain a visa in the fastest and most efficient way;
- they give a great value: competitive pricing compared to the ILS and all while providing a personalized approach to each customer. Third-party visa agencies charge more for less-personal, big-company experience;
- “Let’s Russia” offers the cheapest expedited and rush services in the USA;
- it’s the only agency which offers discounts for groups of more than one;
- the process of ordering a visa service is easy and straight-forward. You won’t have to deal with confusing order forms and paperwork;
- the Russian visa service with “Let’s Russia” is flexible: a customer can choose what he wants at the price he wants;
- they work with all types of Russian visas: tourist, business, humanitarian, work, private, student.
- they are easy to reach and willing to assist in your individual case or even provide a free consultation.
What is the process of getting a Russian visa is like?
Here is a step-by-step process of getting a visa to Russia through “Let’s Russia”. Remember, that your passport has to be valid more than 6 months after the Russian visa will expire and it has to contain at least 2 clean pages. If your current passport expires in less than a year, then you should probably get a new passport first and only then apply for a Russian visa.
- Pick a service which fits your needs and complete an order for visa submission. It will depend on the type of visa you need (most of the visitors will need a tourist visa) and if you need it to be expedited or not. The regular service takes 10-15 business days, expedited service – 6-10 business days, rush service – 3-6 business days.
- Prepare 1 passport-like photo, which has to be taken within the past 6 months. You can easily do it at the photo center in CVS or Walgreens.
- For it to apply for a Russian visa, you will need an invitation letter. It’s not a problem if you don’t have one because “Let’s Russia” will get one for you for an extra fee (a price for a tourist visa invitation is starting at $15 which is a very fair price if you compare it to what some other companies offer online). If you already have an invitation letter, then simply proceed to a next step.
- Fill out and sign an electronic Russian visa application. You will have to complete it yourself but it’s not very hard as you will receive a step-by-step guide on how to complete the form.
- Make a payment for the service + consulate fees.
- Send the documents to Let’s Russia’s office in Houston by mail. That’s all. After the visa is processed, you will receive your passport via postal service as well.
How much it will cost?
As you probably figured, Russian visas for US residents are not cheap (but you know it’ll be worth it). The price will mostly depend on the type of visa and if you are looking for a single, double or multi-entry visa. For example, the Russian tourist single-entry visa consulate fees for the Americans are $123 ($177 for double-entry and $303 for multiple-entry).
“Let’s Russia” charges additional service and mailing fees: the cheapest package provided by “Let’s Russia” costs $99, an expedited service is $149. The best value you’ll get applying for a rush service which is cheaper than any other agencies offer in the United States.
For $178, “Let’s Russia” offers a No-Hassle package which includes a tourist invitation, printed passport photo and dedicated personalized service. This option is great if you want most everything done for you.
Do you have any other questions regarding Russian visas? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below this post and I’ll be more than welcome to give you an advice!