Russian visas for longer visits

Below you'll find a brief outline of the main types of Russian visa available for longer visits to Russia. These types of visa are only required if you plan to spend more than 30 days in the Russian Federation or plan to visit the country multiple times in a short time period. Otherwise, you should apply for a Russian Tourist Visa, details of which can be found here.

Please note: US citizens are now routinely issued with multi-entry visas valid for three years and allowing the holder to stay in Russia for up to six months whatever the purpose of their trip.

Work and study

If you are coming to Russia to enter full-time employment or begin full-time studies at a state-recognized institution, then you will need to obtain the relevant type of visa (Work Visa or Student Visa). Your future employer or educational institution will provide the necessary invitation for you to apply for your visa and advise on other requirements such as medical test results, qualifications, etc. If they are unable to do so satisfactorily, you should seriously reconsider any offer of employment or study.

Visiting friends and relatives

Private visas are intended for those who wish to visit friends or family in Russia, and can be valid for 30 days, three months, six months or one year. Before you can apply for a Russian private visa, the friend or relative who you plan to visit in Russia will need to obtain an official invitation for you from the Federal Migration Service. This can be a long and laborious process, so in most cases you are better off obtaining a Russian Travel Visa instead.

Visiting Russia on business

Visitors who plan to stay in Russia for more than 30 days, or who wish to visit the country repeatedly in a specific time period can also apply for a Business Visa, valid for three months, six months or a year. Travelers with Business Visas are allowed by law to engage in all types of legal commercial activity in Russia except entering into paid employment. To apply for a Business Visa, you will again require an official invitation issued by the Federal Migration Service. Invitations can be obtained by the organization you are planning to visit in Russia, or even in theory by foreign companies or individuals without a specific Russian sponsor. In practice, however, getting an invitation independently is a complex and time-consuming process. Instead, it is possible to buy invitations for Business visas from most private visa agencies that offer Russian visa services. Agencies that provide this service operate in a gray area legally, so it is worth thoroughly researching the agency you plan to use before engaging their services.