02 June 2008

The Russian (Visa) Revolution

Reciprocity is not dead. For every action there is an opposite reaction, and the visa world is no different. Last week the Russian government announced big changes to the visa regime applicable to Canadian citizens.
In their own words: “Please take note that starting June 1, 2008 the processing period of 15 working days is fixed for all kind of visa application for Canadian citizens.”
This means Canadian passport holders must wait a minimum of three weeks for a visa to be issued for travel to Russia, and there is no expedited service available for Canadians. Until the end of April you could still get same-day service, as well as other fast services. No longer.
Word in the diplomatic community is this new longer wait and lack of faster options is a result of Canadian visa processing times in Moscow. we have had to deal with several universities trying to bring Russian professors to Canada for academic conferences, and waiting inordinately-long periods for a visa answer. The Russians have complained about having to wait months for Canadian visas, and finally decided to act.
And just to make us jealous, the Russians added this little dig: “the visa requirements for non-Canadians remain without changes”. Many Europeans can still get visas in a day: even in the Russian embassy in Canada.
So my advice to those of you traveling to Russia is to apply early. The Russians will issue visas more than three months in advance of travel, so you can safely apply early. You still need a confirmed ticket in and out, and a voucher/invitation issued by a Russian agency.
Prices remain the same as for the old two week processing:
Business and tourist single entry $75.
Business and tourist double entry $100.
Business multiple entry $200.
Russian visa details and prices here.
Russian visa forms (fillable) here.