Applying for a Russian Visa Support Letter.
In general it is not easy to get a Russian visa. Before you even fill in the visa application form and visit the consulate you need an invitation or “Visa support letter”. You application cannot be processed without this document as it is a special invitation to visit Russia.
Russian Visa Support Letter and important information.
It is important to know that this invitation letter needs to be processed from within Russia. Under Russian law, every foreign traveller must have a Russian-based sponsor, which could be a hotel, tour company, relative, employer, university, etc. The name of your sponsor is indicated on this “Letter of Invitation”. Below is an example of what the Russian Visa Support Letter looks like.
What kind of Russian Visa do you need?
The first thing to do is to decide what kind of visa you need: Tourist, Business, Student or private. The Private or Homestay Visa is a topic for another Blog post because it is very difficult to obtain and requires a lot of work from your friends or relatives.
My personal experience with a Russian Visa Support Letter.
I have visited Russia in 2008 for a month and in 2012 for three months. When I applied for a Russian Visa in 2008, I ran into a lot of problems with the Consulate in South Africa. I have mentioned before that your “Sponsor”, being a Hotel, Hostel, Tour Agency or University will be able to issue you with a formal invitation. My plans were flexible and I didn´t see the need to book all my accommodation upfront. If you fall into this category then it is best to pay a little extra and get your own Visa Support Letter. There are various companies who assist foreigners. The Company that I have used in 2008 is called “Way to Russia” and they were quick, flexible and offered 24 hour support. In 2012 I used a Company in Saint Petersburg and there service was excellent and very professional. My Support letter was telexed to the Russian Consulate in South Africa and no paperwork was send by courier.
How to apply online and what information is required:
- Full list of personal details;
- Passport number;
- Single, double or multiple entries;
- Entry and exit date (You cannot cross the border before this date);
- Consulate where you will be applying for the visa;
- Cities to visit in Russia (This is flexible);
- Place of stay in Russia and phone number (Optional);
- Scanned copy of your passport.
How much does a Russian Visa Support Letter cost?
It all depends how quickly you want the letter and what type of Visa you will be applying for. Tourist Visas Letters are cheaper and quicker to issue. Prices vary between $30 US (24 hours processing) or $45 US (urgent processing) for a tourist Visa. Business Visas letters take longer and are more expensive. The price is $80 to $250 US (1 to 18 working days) for a business visa. Prices vary from Company to Company and also depends if you need the original form or if it needs to be telexed to the Consulate. In my opinion the Telex option works perfect and I didn´t have any problems with the Russian Consulate in South Africa.
Some Consulates may require the original document and they will post it if required. (In 2008 I printed my document in colour and the Consulate accepted it).
Travel agencies do tend to be on the expensive side when it comes to Russian visa applications mainly because many of them don´t know what is required when applying for a Russian Visa. This I have learnt in 2008 when I asked a Travel Agency to organize my Visa. In 2012, I did it all myself and as long as you understand what is involved, it is not that difficult.
When: 2008 and 2012.