Connecticut, US

Oct 02 2019

Electronic Visa Process for St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region Implemented

Russia

At a Glance

  • Effective immediately, eligible foreign nationals from 53 countries can apply for an e-visa to enter Russia through specific immigration posts located in the St. Petersburg and Leningrad regions for business, tourism or humanitarian purposes.
  • Further details have now been released confirming the application procedure, processing time, documentation and restrictions for the e-visa. Applications will be free, submitted online and should be processed within a maximum of four calendar days.
  • Applicants can enter Russia through specific ports of entry and remain for up to eight days within the visa validity. They can move freely within the region in which they entered but must exit Russia within the same port from which they entered.

The situation

As an update, further details have been released confirming the e-visa process for nationals of the 53 countries who can apply for a free single-entry e-visa to enter Russia for business, tourist or other visits such as sports, cultural, scientific or technical events through the St. Petersburg and Leningrad region.

A closer look

  • Application procedure. Applications are filed on the official Ministry of Foreign Affairs consular department website. Once it has been filed, each applicant will receive an individual number which will enable them to track their application. Decisions will be published on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, and applicants will not receive physical documentation.
  • Processing time. The processing time is expected to be four calendar days from the date the application is filed. Denials are expected to be published on the website within two calendar days. Applications must be filed at least four days before the intended entry date and no earlier than 20 days before the intended entry date.
  • Allowable period of stay. Applicants can remain for up to eight days within the validity of the visa. This cannot be extended.
  • Immigration posts. E-visas are valid for entry and exit from Russia through the select entry points in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region only, and foreign nationals should exit using the same port through which they entered.  When in Russia, they have the right to move freely within the region into which they entered.
  • Documents. Documents required for the e-visa application and entry to Russia include a passport valid for at least six months from the future visa expiration date, confirmation that the e-visa has been issued, a medical insurance certificate covering the period of stay in Russia and travel tickets.    

     

Impact

Foreign nationals using the e-visa can save costs normally associated with applying for non-e-visas. Processing times are also typically faster, with some e-visas issued in four calendar days, compared to 12-21 days for regular visas.

However, foreign nationals may experience application delays as the electronic system is implemented.

Background

  • Russian trends. The changes are part of a wider relaxation of visa requirements in Russia. For example, Russia has also relaxed rules for scientists, implemented electronic visa-free business or tourist travel for nationals of many countries and waived some visa requirements for specific artists, scientists and cultural events.
  • E-visa regimes in Russia. Russia already has an e-visa regime for visits to the Vladivostok and Far East region for specific nationals, as well as the Kaliningrad region for specific nationals. The expansion to the St. Petersburg and Leningrad region is the latest e-visa regime to be implemented.
  • Regional trends. Russia is the latest among many countries in the region to expand e-visas for short-term travel and streamline immigration processes using technology. For example, Ukraine has introduced similar e-visa policies and Kazakhstan introduced a single-entry e-visa for business trips for 43 nationalities in April 2019. The changes come as Russia, along with other countries in the region including Kazakhstan, prepare to build the ‘New Silk Road’ and attract foreign investment and business with simplified travel.

     

Looking ahead

By January 1, 2021, the Russian government is expected to introduce a unified e-visa system for all foreign nationals entering Russia for up to 16 days for guest stays, touristic, business, and humanitarian purposes.

In recent years, while the number of short-term migrants to Russia has been relatively stable, the number long-term residents who seek citizenship has dropped. If Russia continues to rely on an increase of migrants to the country to offset declining population numbers and to attract investment to the country, Fragomen expects further digital and streamlined initiatives to be implemented and visa requirements for skilled migrants to be relaxed.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to emea@fragomen.com.