Visa support agencies and errors in e-visa applications for trips to certain regions of the Russian Federation

Recently there have been several reports, not only in the media but also on social networks, as well as inquiries from the public on applying for e-visas to visit certain Russian regions. We are carefully monitoring the situation with e-visas.

There have been reports of various travel agency websites and questionable agents that offer visa support services, including profiting from Russian e-visa application services. The cost of these services ranges from €15 to €40. One can find other quotes as well. Nobody is disputing foreign nationals’ right to spend money as they see fit, including on paperwork. However, as a reminder, e-visas for visiting selected Russian regions are free and can only be obtained via the Russian Foreign Ministry’s special website, evisa.kdmid.ru. It only takes one visit to the website to find this section. E-visa applicants do not have to provide invitations, hotel booking confirmations or any other documents proving the purpose of their travel to the Russian Federation.

All e-visa applications are processed within 4 calendar days. So, any promises by ‘intermediaries’ to expedite the process and obtain an “express visa,” including for an additional fee, are unsubstantiated. Moreover, there is no guarantee that an agent completing an e-visa application on behalf of somebody else will not make errors in their personal data, which may result in the applicant being denied entry at the Russian border.

It should also be remembered that neither an e-visa nor a paper visa guarantees entry to the Russian Federation. The decision on whether or not a foreign national is admitted to the country is made at the port of entry, which is generally in line with international practice. There have also been reports in the media on the difficulties visitors face when crossing the Russian border, as well as on the deportation of foreign nationals from Russia due to errors in their e-visas, and duration of stay violations, etc. 

We are analysing all these reports. The analysis indicates one common circumstance, which is simply lack of attention and disregard for e-visa application guidelines (which are clear) that are an integral part of the application process. The guidelines contain very detailed explanations with examples of how to correctly fill out one’s first and last names, including how to use characters of national alphabets and how to enter other personal data. A major part of the guidelines describes how to correctly determine one’s period of stay and exit dates in order to prevent administrative charges for violating Russian immigration law.

The guidelines are not simply step-by-step but as thorough as possible. Applicants should remember that e-visas are granted based on applications submitted by applicants themselves rather than by a mediator. The entire travel experience and whether a trip to Russia happens in the first place largely depend on the accuracy of the visa application. Moreover, there is a website for the Consular Department and the
department’s social media account where applicants can ask questions and receive prompt answers. Our consular departments and consulates at foreign missions operate all over the world and applicants can address questions to them.

It should be noted that the online visa processing system is being constantly improved, in order to offer the most comfortable entry procedure for foreign nationals travelling to Russia on e-visas, as well as to minimise incidents caused by errors in visa applications, subject to Russian border crossing law. We maintain regular contact with all the government bodies, ministries and agencies in Russia that are responsible for or involved in border control. 

The system is being improved. We analyse a large amount of data and make sure to quickly respond to any issues or problems that, unfortunately, may be caused by the circumstances described above.