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International Adoptions in Russia - Important Russian Visa Information

Important Russian Visa information

We ask all agencies with clients going to Russia to please verify that the dates on the visa match the intended dates of travel to Russia. There is no leeway either on the visa start date or end date. Unless their stay has been extended in advance, travelers will face significant delays in departing Russia if they stay beyond the end specified on their visa. Unfortunately, travelers cannot enter or exit Russia without a valid visa.

In addition, please consider visa requirements of other European countries through which families may be transiting on the return journey from Russia to the United States. Some European countries require visas for anyone traveling on Russian passports (i.e. newly adopted children from Russia). This may even be the case when only changing planes at an international airport. This matter should be addressed early, as it can take several days to obtain the required transit visas.

The Embassy has provided comprehensive guidance on traveling to Russia on the Department of State website. It can be found at: . U.S. citizens are strongly urged to read the full guidance before traveling to Russia. Below are extracts from the Embassy guidance on the Russia visa regime:

Before traveling to Russia, U.S. citizens should verify the latest requirements with the nearest Russian Embassy or Consulate ( ).

U.S. citizens must always possess a valid U.S. passport and appropriate visas for travel to or transit through Russia, whether by train, car, ship or airplane. The visas should be obtained from a Russian Embassy or Consulate in the U.S. or abroad in advance of travel, as it is impossible to obtain a Russian entry visa upon arrival. Travelers who arrive without an entry visa are not permitted to enter Russia and face immediate expulsion by route of entry, at the traveler's expense.

A Russia entry/exit visa has two dates written in the European style (day, month, year). The first date indicates the earliest day a traveler may enter Russia; the second date indicates the date by which a traveler must leave Russia. Russian tourist visas are often granted only for the specific dates mentioned in the invitation letter provided by the sponsor. United States citizens often receive visas only valid for periods as short as four days. Even if the visa is misdated through error of a Russian Embassy or Consulate, the traveler will still not be allowed into Russia before the visa start date or be allowed to leave after the visa expiration date. Any mistakes in visa dates must be corrected before the traveler enters Russia. It is helpful to have someone who reads Russian check the visa before departing the United States.

Even if your visa was obtained through a travel agency in the U.S., there is always a Russian legal entity whose name is indicated on the visa and who is considered to be the legal sponsor. It is important for travelers to know who the sponsor is and how to contact him/her because Russian law requires that the sponsor must apply on the traveler's behalf for replacement, extension, or changes to a Russian visa. U.S. citizens are strongly advised to contact their tour company or hotel in advance for the contact information of the visa sponsor.

To resolve any visa difficulties (lost visa, expired visa), the traveler's sponsor must contact the nearest Russian visa and passport office (OVIR/UVIR) for assistance. Resolving the visa problem usually requires the payment of a fee and a wait of up to twenty calendar days.

A valid visa is necessary to depart Russia. Generally, the visa issued by a Russian Embassy or Consulate is valid for entry and exit.

Visitors, who overstay their visa's validity, even for one day, will be prevented from leaving until their sponsor intervenes and requests a visa extension on their behalf.