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 Post subject: Re: Visa Changes for Americans to Russia
Post Number:#11  PostPosted: 12 Jan 2012 07:11 
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Happy New Year All


http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/arti ... 50579.html


Doesn't look like this visa deal between USA and RF is going to happen so soon, i want to take my Roosky wife to USA in April, anybody have an experience of applying for USA visa for Russian national living in RF, will she have to visit Moscow or is it something that can be applied for through local travel agency or post ?


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 Post subject: Re: Visa Changes for Americans to Russia
Post Number:#12  PostPosted: 22 Jun 2012 14:19 
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Tortuous Path Led to Visa Agreement With U.S.A

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Tourists looking for directions in downtown Moscow. After three years,
Washington and Moscow are closing in on a milestone visa agreement
that is making other Western countries envious.

U.S. diplomats approached the Russians in 2009 with an unprecedented proposal to ease cumbersome visa rules between the two countries by issuing three-year visas for most travelers as a general rule.

The Russian side seemed interested. But talks picked up only when Vladimir Putin got involved, which took two years, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

Putin declared to visiting Vice President Joe Biden on March 10, 2011, that both countries should abolish visas altogether.

"We would turn a very important page in our past and start all over again," said Putin, who was then serving as prime minister. "It would create an absolutely new moral atmosphere" between the countries.

Biden appeared ambiguous about the stunning proposal, first saying "good idea." But then, pressed by Putin to sell the idea in Washington, he added: "Mr. Prime Minister, in case you haven't noticed, there's a real difference between being president and vice president."

It is unclear whether Putin was aware of the behind-the-scenes talks with the United States on easing visa rules when he made his bombshell statement.

But his comments prompted a flurry of activity in the Foreign Ministry, and the talks to ease visa rules picked up significantly, according to U.S. diplomats.

The Foreign Ministry did not respond to written questions for this article. Contacted by phone Friday, a spokesman asked that questions be submitted in writing, but no response had been received by Wednesday.

Russia and the United States are now closing in on a visa agreement that is making other Western countries envious.

Read more: The Moscow Times - 22 June 2012 By Nikolaus von Twickel .[click-me.gif].

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 Post subject: Re: Visa Changes for Americans to Russia
Post Number:#13  PostPosted: 31 Jul 2012 07:37 
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Putin Signs Pact to Ease Visa Rules With U.S.

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President Vladimir Putin has signed a landmark visa agreement with the United States, the Kremlin said Monday, allowing the long-delayed reform to come into force in September.

The Kremlin did not say when Putin had signed the agreement, but according to a scan on the official pravo.gov.ru portal, the document was dated July 28 — last Saturday.

To become law, the document needs to be published in the government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta, which is usually a formality.

But the new rules will come into force only 30 days after a final diplomatic exchange of notes takes place between officials from both countries.

Reached by telephone Monday, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said the agreement should be implemented by mid-September.

The agreement was originally supposed to enter into force last year, but it was ratified by the State Duma and Federation Council only this month after being held up by government bureaucracy. Under U.S. law, no ratification is required.

The new rules make three-year multiple-entry visas allowing a maximum stay of six months the norm for both tourists and business travelers, provided their applications are approved.

The new rules will be felt by Americans more than by Russians because U.S. consulates already give two-year visas to many successful applicants. However, first-time applicants will still be asked to appear for personal interviews, a practice not required by the Russian side.

The rejection rate for Russian applicants is roughly 10 percent, according to State Department figures.

The agreement also scraps the requirement of a written invitation from a host-country citizen or organization, something that has not been required by the U.S.

In a statement late Monday, the U.S. Embassy welcomed Putin's signing of the agreement, saying that it would strengthen ties between both countries in the biggest segments of tourism and business.



Read more:31 July 2012-The Moscow Times


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 Post subject: Re: Visa Changes for Americans to Russia
Post Number:#14  PostPosted: 31 Jul 2012 11:23 
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Nothing Special..... just to help a few friends from both sides. If you read the full details as published previously...... you will discover that it's not for everybody these new changes but for certain categories. I don't think that the Visa registration has been abolished...... and yes it's a bloody pain in the ass, because the system needs to keep few people busy and at work.

The other day the President of Kyrgyzstan, followed Ukraine's example in 2005, signed a degree abolishing the visa requirement for Americans, Europeans, Australians, Canadians and several other Nationalities.

Russia is a nice country to visit and has too many treasures and interesting places to see but for now is still lives under similar conditions of the cold war. Moscow ans St. Petersburg are the main destinations for tourists....when the country is the 1/5 of the world in size! Tourist and other visitors to Ukraine has increased 10 times fold, since 2005.

Living standards in Russia have improved a lot, very similar to ours in the west... apart from the service you receive when shopping, eating etc. That will take a century before you notice any different.

Getting a visa, is a costly business, and brings a lot of money to the Embassies. I have registered in one town and then travelled around to other places with no problem whatsoever, without registering again and have been to Russia for over 15 times.

My wife, a Russian National, was issued an EU Resident Card and can travel anywhere in the EU without any visa whatsoever.

Myself, a British and an EU citizen, need my wife to come with me to the visa centre to sign an invitation so I can visit our family and house in Russia.......

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 Post subject: Re: Visa Changes for Americans to Russia
Post Number:#15  PostPosted: 07 Sep 2012 10:25 
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Under New Visas, Mind the Fine Print

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Those who believe in the U.S.-Russian "reset" despite disheartening rhetoric in both countries recently may want to celebrate on Sunday when a landmark visa agreement comes into force.

But before you put the Champagne bottle on ice, read the fine print carefully.

The agreement makes three-year multiple-entry visas allowing stays of up to six months the standard for both tourists and business travelers from each country. Written invitation requirements, fees and minimum waiting times will be slashed, and visa applications will be handled by any consulate in the world — by and large regardless of an applicant's place of residence.

That's how things should work in theory. What will happen in practice won't be known before Monday, when both countries' consulates start implementing the new rules.

The implementation is more demanding for Moscow because Russian consulates hitherto gave single-entry visas only for the exact travel dates, while U.S. consulates already give two-year multiple-entry visas to most applicants.

Somewhat surprisingly, Russia is opting for a dual system, giving travelers a choice of applying for a visa "old style" or "new style," said a senior Foreign Ministry official.

"The old style will stay in force for one year," said Vadim Sovelev, head of the consular section in the ministry's North America department.

One reason why applicants might opt for the old rules is that they offer little uncertainty. The Foreign Ministry has not yet published its implementation recommendations to consulates.

Observers said this made some of the agreement's effects hard to gauge. "As long as we do not have those recommendations, we have no idea how consulates will handle this," said Yekaterina Elekchyan, an associate with Baker & McKenzie's Moscow office.

Sovelev said that recommendations would be published on consulate websites by Sunday or Monday. But he said that while invitation requirements will be eased for business travelers, the procedure for tourists will remain the same. "They need an invitation from an officially registered tour operator or a hotel reservation," he said.

Written invitations are the main headache for travelers wishing to stay with friends, because the documents are cumbersome to obtain for Russians and impossible to get for most foreigners living in the country. Many visitors opt for tourist companies, which often make fictitious hotel reservations and charge hefty fees.

But Sovelev was adamant that the three-year period stipulated in the agreement would be extended to tourists regardless of the length of their hotel reservations or organized tours. "We are recommending our consulates to act favorably and issue three-year visas," he said.

Business travelers are relieved of the cumbersome requirement to get an official invitation from the Federal Migration Service. Instead they will need to present a written invitation that can come from "any Russian organization or a U.S. organization with official representative offices in Russia," Sovelev said.

He also said tourist and business visa holders must not stay in the country for more than six months — but that they can immediately return after leaving the country. "Theoretically, you can leave for one day," he said.

The reciprocal agreement stipulates that the United States issues three-year visas to business travelers and tourists. While American consulates demand only an online application form and a photo, they say that written invitations can help first-time applicants required to be interviewed by consular officials — in order to show that they won't stay permanently. (Second-time applicants who got their last U.S. visa before 2008 and have not been finger-scanned are not exempt from the interview.)

Americans represent the third-largest group of visitors to Russia from outside the former Soviet Union. According to U.S. Embassy data, 170,000 trips from U.S. citizens were registered in 2011.

The number of Russians traveling to the United States is significantly higher, with 222,000 visits recorded in 2011, a 27 percent increase over 2010, the U.S. Embassy said.

For this year, U.S. officials expect a more moderate increase — but that nevertheless is on track to set another all-time record. "We are anticipating a modest jump in applicants of some 10 percent," Consul General Doron Bard said in an interview at the U.S. Embassy on Thursday.

Bard said he hopes the agreement will provide an impetus for more change. "I am looking forward for Russia to become a more attractive destination for American business and tourism," he said, adding that the Russian government had a role to play in that.

He also stressed that the agreement should be seen in the light of the reset of bilateral relations, initiated by President Barack Obama when he came to office in 2008.

"The visa agreement is part of the reset and dovetails nicely with" it, he said.

Initialed between Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last summer, the agreement was held up in Moscow bureaucracy for more than a year.

President Vladimir Putin's signing of the agreement on July 28 sent a welcome signal after a series of troubles that started in January, when the new U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul was greeted by harassment and scathing criticism from pro-Kremlin media and youth groups.

Things did not get better after Putin kicked off his new term as president in May by signing a series of laws criticized as repressive by the U.S. State Department. (Before his election, Putin blamed the State Department for huge opposition rallies against his return to power.)

Further straining ties have been efforts by U.S. lawmakers to pass the Magnitsky act, which would blacklist Russians accused of human rights abuses. Moscow has vowed to retaliate over any such law.

Solovev, the Foreign Ministry official, said that the visa agreement was the most liberal that exists with any country that has a visa regime with Russia. And he added that this "breakthrough" should be followed by more. "Our aim is to scrap visas altogether," he said.

While Consul General Bard said that a visa waiver agreement with Russia was not yet on the agenda, he did praise the spirit among U.S. and Russian officials who worked on the agreement. Deputy chief of mission Sheila Gwaltney and Foreign Ministry officials did not pop open a bottle of Champagne when they formalized the agreement last month with an exchange of diplomatic notes, but they will hold a "celebratory lunch" in the near future, he said.

The U.S. Embassy has published an overview of the new rules on its website. The whole agreement might be published after it comes into force next week, an embassy spokeswoman said by e-mail. http://moscow.usembassy.gov/pr_visas-082912.html
The embassy welcomes U.S. citizens to send feedback about their experiences to its citizen services section at MoscowWarden@state.gov.




Read more: The Moscow Times

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 Post subject: Re: Visa Changes for Americans to Russia
Post Number:#16  PostPosted: 11 Sep 2012 06:37 
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U.S. Allows Russians 3-Year Visa

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TV presenter Tina Kandelaki outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow on Monday showing off a U.S. visa she had just received.


Television star Tina Kandelaki became the first Russian to pick up a three-year U.S. visa on Monday, one day after the much-touted visa facilitation agreement between both countries went into force.

Kandelaki said she was chosen because of her popularity on the Russian Internet. "I want to tell you that this happened because of you, dear friends," she wrote on her blog. The U.S. Embassy also published a photo of her holding up her visa.

It remained unclear how Americans would fare in Russian consulates because no practical results were available as of Monday night. However, the Russian Embassy in Washington published some far-reaching details about the agreement's implementation.

Many U.S. citizens living in Russia will for the first time be able to invite friends and family members simply by having an invitation notarized and submitted with the applicant's paperwork, according to the website of the embassy's official visa agency, Invisa Logistics Services.
The new rules for so-called private visas are a massive improvement on the previous regime, whereby only U.S. citizens with residency permits — which are extremely hard to get — and Russians can request official invitations from the Federal Migration Service, a process that usually lasts 30 days. That regime still applies to most other Western foreigners.

Similarly, companies no longer have to bother obtaining business visa invitations through the Federal Migration Service, but can simply write them using their own official letterhead. The same applies for nongovernmental organizations wishing to invite experts for so-called humanitarian visas, typically conference speakers.

Analysts said this presents a massive time-saver because migration service invitations may take a whole month to get. "They usually took the full 30 days to process visa invitations for private visas. Processing of visa invitations for business and humanitarian visas also take a lot of time," said Yekaterina Elekchyan, an associate with Baker & McKenzie's Moscow office.

The visa agreement stipulates that both private and business travelers from both countries "as a rule" get three-year visas allowing stays of up to three months. It does away with migration service invitations for private, humanitarian and business visas, while the requirements for tourist visas remain unchanged: Applicants need to present hotel reservation confirmations or contracts with registered tour operators.

Issuing three-year visas is a small step for the United States, which already gives two-year visas to most applicants, but it means a large change for Russia, whose consulates have hitherto issued visas strictly according to applicants' travel dates.

Foreign Ministry officials have promised that the agreement would be fully implemented and that official recommendations for consulates say applications from U.S. citizens should be handled "favorably" by giving three-year visas even to tourists on the basis of much shorter hotel reservations.

However, in a somewhat puzzling move, the ministry has also said that U.S. applicants may choose to apply for visas under the old rules for at least another year.

Observers said consulates' implementation would be the main indicator. "The agreement says three-year visas will be granted 'as a rule,' so we need to see how it pans out in reality," said Tatyana Bondareva of Visa Delight, a Moscow-based agency handling visa issues for foreigners.

Bondareva added that it was unclear how first-time applicants would be treated. "I expect much fewer problems for travelers who got visas before," she said.

While U.S. consulates do not demand written invitations, they retain their practice of personally interviewing candidates to test their willingness to return home.

Some 600 candidates were interviewed in the Moscow consulate Monday, an embassy spokeswoman said.

Elekchyan of Baker & McKenzie raised another potential caveat about the three-year duration of private visas issued on the basis of a U.S. citizen's invitation. She pointed out that it would be logical that such visas would only be valid as long as the inviting American's visa lasts. "This is the established practice for family members' visas," she said.

The Foreign Ministry could not immediately comment on e-mailed questions on this issue Monday. Reached by telephone, Vadim Savelyev, head of the consular section at the ministry's North America department, said this was a "technical question" and asked to be called back because he needed to consult with ministry experts.

Savelyev did not respond to further calls.



Read more: The Moscow Times

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