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There are several types of Russian visas:
- private visas, i.e. issued at the invitation of a private person. It can be issued for not more than 3 months, your Russian friend is responsible for your accommodation, your leaving at due time.
- studen visas, i.e. issued at the invitation of educational institution, its term is subject to the educational program. When it is expired you must leave the country.
- tourist visas, i.e. issued by Russian Consulate outside Russia on the basis of a tourist voucher issued in Russia by a firm having Russian Tourism License or an authorized hotel. This visa is the easiest to get, but to register a visa a foreigner must pay for a tour or hotel stay even if he does not need it. Terms of a visit and cities to visit cannot be changed in Russia.
- business visas, i.e. issued at the invitation of a firm registered in Russia (no difference whether its capital is Russian, foreign or mixed) and especially additionally registered with a local PVU (Passport & Visa Department) which just took this function from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Business invitations are in use for religious affairs, visits of family members of foreign businessmen etc. The maximum term for a business visit is one year, the number of entries to Russia can be one, two or unlimited. All visas for more than three months are multi-entry having unlimited number of entries. If you want to take your child with you on a business visit to Russia and this child is registered in your passport you can apply only for a single- or double entry visa.
This routine is usually a great surprise and problem for all foreigners coming to Russia. The thing is that all foreigners visiting Russia must be registered in PVU (Passport & Visa Department) (it is new name of UVIR, Russian abbreviation for the Department of Visas and Registrations).. This registration is responsibility of the firm or organization or a person who invited you and is indicated in your visa. If you came to Russia and were not registered for three working days, the police can fine you for the first time ($10 - $50), the second - has the right to exile you before the expiration of your visa and put you on the "Black List" (you will not be allowed to enter the country for one year). If a foreigner is unable to find the firm indicated in his visa, Russian law says that he must leave the country in three days even if he has one-year visa.
So, the first rule is:
NEVER BUY YOUR VISA INVITATION FROM A FIRM IF YOU ARE NOT GUARANTEED TO ARRANGE THE REGISTRATION IN RUSSIA.
There are a lot of offers of any invitations near Russian Consulates or Embassies, but if a foreigner buys any of it, enter Russia and is unable to register his visa, his Russian visa can be cancelled.
So, the second rule is:
DO NOT FORGET TO ARRANGE LOCAL REGISTRATION OF YOUR VISA AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO ANY NEW RUSSIAN CITY!
Once you are in Russia you may need to extend your stay there. The official regulations accept only two reasons for a visa extension:
a return ticket for a fixed date (not later than a couple of weeks after the expiration of your visa); this extension can be performed only once.
a job permit issued for working at a Russian firm; it is a long story (we also assist in obtaining it, inquires are welcome), expenses amount to hundreds and hundreds USD.
So the third rule is:
ORDER YOUR VISA FOR THE LONGEST POSSIBLE TERM!