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As with many new posts, this has probably been covered somewhere on the HUBB, in great depth, but I can't find it, so here we go.
I want to get a Visa for Russia. I intend to go to Russia>Kazakhstan>Russia>Mongolia>Russia, and was therefore looking at getting a multiple entry business visa.
However, everywhere I look for info on this, I see the following;
"Please note: IMPORTANT: The Russian consulate may refuse to issue a multiple entry visa unless during the previous year the applicant has been issued with at least one Russian visa (which they have used)."
As the cost for this visa is about £240, and non-refundable, I'm hesitant to proceed without some indication of my chances of success.
Or should I get a double entry (!??) visa, and try and get it altered somewhere on the road?
got to be honest, I have never personally heard of anyone who has had a Russian visa refused, multi entry or otherwise.
I would put your chances of success very high.
To further improve your chances, I would also apply by post to the Edinburgh consulate rather than the London one. They are quicker and more efficient processing your visa due to much much lower workload. That probably also means they are less stressed and less grumpy ... all positive factors when it comes to visas.
The invitation for multi entry business visas is cleared by the FSB (successor to the KGB and very powerful in todays Russia) ... thats why the invite for business visas takes a long time. By getting your multi entry business invite, it effectively means you have been already cleared by the FSB. I would think it was unlikely that the consulate would have any real reasons to effectively overrule the FSB regarding the granting of your visa.
Similarly, the border guards can refuse you entry, even once you get the visa. The only cases I have heard of that are for people with long standing visas who have done something to annoy the State since getting their visa. They also have warnings everywhere that holding a visa does not automatically grant you the right to enter Russia ... its at the discression ofthe border authorities ... in theory.
No guarantees in life but I would think it was highly unlikely for a consulate to not honour the FSB approved invitation.
Location: On our bicycles, probably pushing up a hill!
Have a look at our site under the visa section about our experience. We decided to go for the multi entry 12 month business visa and got it no problem. We did however apply for the visa in Oz (we are British citizens.)
David from Stantours should be able to give some good advice as well.
As Colebatch says, although border guards etc probably DO have power to rescind, they do not use it - well, not to my knowledge, also. The whole system operates on the basis people only check that you got the previous stage done. They then assume that you must be good to get this far in the process, don't check further back, but do their bit and want to be rid of you.
There was an article in Moscow Times last week by the Chief of Visas saying he is looking into pop stars applying for tourist or private visas then performing at a private party. George Michael reputedly collected $2,000,000 last year for a 20 minute set and being photographed shaking a few hands. Brian Ferry and Elton John have been similarly mentioned.
I am sure dirty/oily bikers or 4x4ers will not be scrutinised for if they have had similar offers. I never have been - but I and my bank manager would welcome the reason!
You cannot apply for a visa within RUS nor to have it altered. So either get a multi entry one, or apply for the second one after you exit the first time.
Embassy Visa fees do vary depending on where you apply in terms of country. I understand France and Finland are the cheapest in EU, and UK among the dearest - as always!
If such costs matter significantly in the overall finances of your trip, firstly think if you should be going, but if so, 'shop around' looking at local Embassy websites. Then either get your own invitation sorted if you have contacts or use a local agency.
Baron, I had the same difficulty when I applied for my visa last year.
Further to what Colebatch has said, my problem was not getting the business visa but with getting the business visa invitation.
According to "Way to Russia" the rules changed in October 2007 and they (and other internet visa invitation companies) point blank refused to allow me to apply for a multi-entry visa invitation for me if I had not previously visited Russia.
I checked with the Russian consultate in Sydney and they said they would be happy to give me a multi-entry visa providing I had the invitation.
So in effect it seems that it is the FSB who have brought this rule into place.
I ended up getting a double entry business visa and changed my route such that I entered Mongolia from China (instead of Russia), re-entered China and then went from China to Korea to Vladivostok. I was then able to go South from Russia into Kazakhstan and re-enter Russia.
If factual, then any information on Russian Visas that relates to experiences BEFORE 23rd JAN 2009 would be outdated.
"The problem is that our terms and conditions do not allow us to process visa support documents without the payment. We used to refund consular fee when the consulate didn’t accept the pack for any reasons, but honestly speaking the situation has changed recently.
Now the consulate no longer accepts the applications, they have VAC – visa application center that coordinates visa issuing process for the consulate, they take their own fee for what they are doing (it’s crazy, and they started working from the 23d of January), but what we noticed is that they are not aware of half rules, like when we lodged the documents for a US military man, they accepted the pack and warned us only the next working day that the process will take 14 working days instead of 6 as he is a military man and they have to process additional checking on him.
I am afraid, they can accept your application pack, we will pay the consular and VAC fees and they will turn back to us the next working day to tell they are refusing the pack, and there is no guarantees they will refund the fees (most likely they won’t). So I am afraid, we won’t be able to refund them to you.
Diplomatic Tit for Tat!
(and I don't mean Colebatch's new image!)
For nearly a year the British Embassy in Moscow has only dealt with Visa Applications if channelled and paid through the UK VISA Application Centre. They guarantee nothing yet charge the same irrespective of a Visa being granted or not and, as far as I can see, is more than direct applications were previously!
Now it seems the Russians are doing the same.
As increasing numbers of Russians travel away, and I hear complaints it is getting increasingly difficult to get a visa for Europe, the only hope of an easing is from both countries responding to its citizens.
The other distant hope is a deal with EU for allowing visa free land travel for RUS citizens between Kalliningrad and 'mainland' Russia.
I'm coming round to the idea that my best route forward may be this;
Get a double entry tourist visa for Russia
Enter Russia, then depart to Kazakhstan
Back into Russia, using second permitted entry
Into Mongolia, and get another single entry visa at RUS consulate (risk?)
Back into Russia, east, shoot, leave
I asked the lady at realrussia if anyone from the UK had applied for a multi-entry business visa, without having previous RUS visas, since the changes came in a week ago, and she said no, I would be the first.
Not too keen to be guinea pig for this new scheme really.
I considered the same approach 9 months ago Baron but decided against it because:
1. It's not easy getting a visa at any Russian consulate outside your home country.
2. The Russian consulate in UB is tougher than most to get a visa from because of all the backpackers applying there after heading north from China
3. You need to allow a week to get a VI from a local travel agency or over the internet
4. Visa issuing time can be up to a month.
I've made the decision to get a double entry business visa for the trip, based on the following;
-6 Month visa can still only be for a maximum of 90 days in any 180 day period
-I can get to Kazakhstan without going through Russia (Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan) - pls tell me if this isn't the case!
-This means I only need 2 entries into Russia
-Saves me about £100 on visa fee
-No worries about not having a previous Russian Visa in my passport
-I can get to Kazakhstan without going through Russia (Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan)
The only place you can get to from Azerbaijan at the moment is Turkmenistan. I do not believe there are any regular or reliable ferries from Baku to Atyrau or Aktau in KZ. The border from Azerbaijan to Russia is also closed to foreigners, and as Azerbaijan is not on friendly terms with Iran, that border is troublesome too. So you will have to get the dreaded Turkmenistan visa to do things that way. But you can do it with only 2 Russia entries.
If you want to avoid the Turkmenistan visa, then get your 2 entries in the UK and try and get another single entry visa while in Almaty, rather than Mongolia. KZ is one of the countries with the best relations with Russia. A single entry visa invite can be issued in an hour, and if you pay up for same day visa processing in Almaty your stay there could be as little as one or two extra days.
I too have heard that getting Russian visas in Mongolia is not something the russians encourage.
-6 Month visa can still only be for a maximum of 90 days in any 180 day period
The same idea applies for one year visas - permitted time in RUS is half of the maximum of Visa total validity period which is broken into two 180 day periods.
My latest One Year Multi Entry Business Visa, issued last March (must get it renewed soon) carries the endorsement "valid 90 days every 180 days" which effectively means 180 days in 360 days (a year) but in at least 2 visits.
You cannot stay for more than 90 days on any single visit.
This was new from last March, not being on previous Visas.
So after a change of mind, I've now taken the plunge, and applied for a business multi-entry Russian visa for 6 months. Possibly the first to do so (without previous visas in my passport) since the VAC took over Russian Visa approval on the 23rd Janurary 2009.
So in 18 days I should have my LOI, then fingers crossed time to see if it goes through.
I'll report back when I have a response..
Colebatch, can you give any more info on getting a visa for Turkmenistan?
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