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Visas for South Africans: Do you need a visa to travel to Russia and what does it cost?

Visas for South Africans: Do you need a visa to travel to Russia and what does it cost?

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In the next two months or so, Russia is going to welcome scores of tourists as it’s hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Although our Bafana Bafana failed to make the cut in terms of teams qualifying for the showpiece, there will still be a decent South African contingent looking to catch a glimpse of the world’s very best.

Already a fairly popular tourist destination, Russia is set to experience a massive tourist boom as it shows off its summer glory in hosting its first ever World Cup, much like the buzz witnessed here in South Africa when the country hosted the global spectacle in 2010.

Before packing your vuvuzela in your suitcase and brushing up on your Russian slang, we have a few useful bits of information we think you might need.

Also read: South Africans can visit these 91 countries without a visa nightmare

Do South Africans need a visa to travel to Russia?

Up until last year, a visa was compulsory to all South Africans travelling to the country for whatever reason, but this changed on 1 April 2017 when Russia’s foreign ministry scrapped visas for holidaymakers.

This means that for a visit of up to 90 days, you will not have to go through the hassle of applying for a visa, and waiting for approval before you can confidently pack your suitcases and head on your vacation.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement:

“Under the Protocol’s provisions, citizens of Russia and South Africa travelling without the intention of working, studying or living in the other country’s territory, are free from visa requirements.”

However, for those visiting Russia with the intention of working, studying or moving there on a more permanent basis, a visa is required.

Also read: Home Affairs looks to boost tourism by easing up visa requirements

Business visa

In order to obtain this, an applicant must present a letter of invitation at the Embassy, either from business partners, a commercial firm or whoever the hosting party may be.

Reviewing the application can take up to 12 working days for a single-entry visa, and up to 17 working days for a dual entry.

This is due to stringent background checks to determine whether the applicant has a history of criminal convictions in Russia or whether they were deported from the country during a previous visit.

Complete an online application and further submit in print to the Consulate. Glue 1 x passport photo in colour, not older than 6 months to the form, sign and date.
Valid Passport (only in original, minimum 2 blank visa-designated pages open and valid for 6 months after the last day of the intended stay in Russia).
Medical (Travel) insurance for the period of stay in Russia.
Copy of return flight ticket or itinerary showing entry and departure from Russia
Important: Non-South African Nationals must submit valid Residence Permit/Work Permit more than 90 days in South Africa or a copy of RSA ID/RSA passport. It is your responsibility to confirm in advance with the Consular office that this is still valid for your visa applications.

Also read: Dependents of UK Ancestry Visas

Work visa

When applying for a work visa you need to submit the following:

Completed application form
Passport
2 Passport photos
Fees
Original letter of invitation from the Ministry of Internal Affairs or its regional office
Original HIV test certificate

Processing time and cost depend on several factors, such as citizenship, your profession and type of intended work, urgency, prices and quality of your visa assistant’s services.

To extend a work visa or get a new multiple-entry work visa, it is not required to leave the country, it can be issued at the local Migration police office upon presentation of a Work permit valid for a new term.

There is also a special dispensation for “highly qualified specialists” which:

presupposes a salary of more than two million rubles (R400 000) per year for a foreigner with experience, skills or achievements in a particular area of activity
allows to get a multiple-entry visa once for up to 3 years and renew it without leaving Russia
does not require the Employer to obtain quotas and request from the employment centre, as well as to receive Permission to hire foreign workers
does not require a foreigner to make analysis to receive Medical Certificate, a voluntary medical insurance is sufficient instead
allows a foreigner to get a residence permit for himself and his family members
facilitates the visa registration requirements: the registration is not required for a short-term stay (up to 90 days) in other regions of Russia

In order to obtain a work permit for a highly qualified specialist, an employing company must submit to the Russian Migration Police of Moscow:

application for hire a Highly Qualified Specialist;
labour contract with the employed Highly Qualified Specialist which enters into force when the specialist receives the Work permit. To be accepted, a labour contract must contain the following data:
labour contract date;
indication of the contract to be concluded for an indefinite period;
position of the employed Highly Qualified Specialist;
monthly salary in rubles;
information on provided health insurance .

written obligation to pay the costs of the Russian Federation related to possible deportation of the employed Highly Qualified Specialist from Russia;
notarised copies of TIN/ KPP and certificate of the main state registration number or an extract from the state register of accredited branches of foreign legal entities if employing company is a branch of a foreign legal entity
confirmation of payment of the state fee 3500 rubles per person
colour photo of Highly Qualified Specialist on the mat paper
notarised translated passport copy.

Also read: Visas for South Africans – What does a UK visitor’s visa cost?

Student Visa

Applying for a student visa has pretty much the same requirements as the work visa, but a prospective student will need to first secure a place in one of the country’s educational institutions.

The student visa is issued as a single entry visa, granted for a period of three to 12 months and is extendable depending on the duration of the course.

After securing admission in a Russian institution, a letter of invitation will be issued to you from the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs or its Regional Office, otherwise, a letter of invitation must issued from the institution.

Other requirements include the following;

a valid and signed passport that has at least two blank pages
passport must have a validity that extends the duration of the visa you are applying for by at least 6 months
 a copy of your Russian visa application form, completed and signed by you
the original letter of invitation issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or its Regional Office or the University or educational institute where you have enrolled for your course
 certificates of your current diploma or degree or educational qualification
proof of tuition fee payment to the University or College or Institute where you plan to study
an original HIV (AIDS) Test Certificate showing a negative result from less than three months ago.
How much does it cost?

Though the prices fluctuate, a work, study and private visa cost up to the region of R1800, while double and multiple entry visas will set you back R2700 and R5500 respectively.

According to the Russian Embassy in SA, only cash is accepted and payments must be done well in advance.

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