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#26 - JRL 2007-233 - JRL Home
From: Arch Getty <getty@ucla.edu>
Subject: New restrictive visa rules
Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2007

The U.S. embassy in Moscow issued the following Warden's Message on Nov. 6, 2007. Note the new visa regulations whereby most foreigners cannot stay in Russia more than 90 days at a time, and then must leave for 90 days before re-entering:

Warden Message - From U.S. Consul General Kurt E. Amend

First, I wish to thank all of you who participated in the Live Webchat on October 30. We will soon have a full transcript available on the Embassy's website, http://usembassy.ru.

Not surprisingly, during the webchat many of you expressed concern about the new Russian visa regulations. We have been monitoring this issue closely, and have been in contact with Russian government officials in an attempt to clarify the new rules. There are still many unanswered questions, and we are trying to get a complete picture of exactly how these new regulations will affect U.S. citizens in the Russian Federation.

As I said in the webchat, for now, there are three key changes for American citizens to bear in mind: First, if your visa expires, you must seek a new one from the Federal Migration Service, unless the visa has expired within the last three days. In that case, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may issue a new visa. Whatever your situation, please be aware that any foreigner with an expired visa in the Russian Federation, even a visa expired for just one day, can face a considerable delay in leaving the country.

The second change has to do with where a person can apply for a visa. There are some narrow exceptions, but essentially, any foreigner now has to apply for a Russian visa either in their home country, or in a country where they are permitted a stay of more than 90 days. We have canvassed the entry regulations for U.S. citizens for nearby countries, and the only country where U.S. citizens are regularly admitted for more than 90 days is Great Britain. I would nevertheless caution anyone considering applying for a new visa at the Russian Embassy in London to check first, and make sure that your application will be accepted.

The third change has to do with those on a "Regular" visa. Except for the student and employment categories, visa holders in this group may now only spend 90 days in Russia in a 180-day period. We do not know how current visa holders will be grandfathered, and there may be some uneven implementation of this new requirement. Please be aware, however, that this is what the new regulations indicate, and potentially, the penalty for non-compliance is a five-year ban from the Russian Federation.

Until we have a better sense of how these rules will be implemented, I recommend that all U.S. citizens in the Russian Federation check with their visa sponsors regularly, and make sure that they are in compliance with Russian law. When we have a more definitive picture of the new law, we will send out additional warden messages and post the information on our website. In the meantime, you can also get information (in Russian) from the website of the Federal Migration Service, at: www.fms.gov.ru.

Kurt Amend
Consul General