Applying for a Russian Student Visa: What Not to Do
The Visa Process is Not to Be Rushed
I, as I am sure many of you are, was incredibly eager to start my studies in Moscow. When applying to Liden & Denz I was informed that student visas take a minimum of five weeks to be processed; I wanted to start in four. Nevertheless, I decided I would land in Russia five weeks from that very moment. Ignoring the warning calls of my family, friends, mentors and the L&D staff I dove right into the process at Mach 5. This engine is not equipped for high speeds.
Don’t forget to check your email
In order to obtain a visa to the Russian Federation you will need an official letter of invitation. The school, hotel or family member that you will be staying with needs to bring your information to their migration office and formally invite you. If you are in a hurry and the school asks you a question, you answer. Otherwise they are not going to want to hustle on your behalf. Check your email and respond ASAP.
Don’t waste your time “waiting”
You may not have the invitation in your hand yet. Your trip to The Consulate/ILS may not be booked until next week. You can’t buy your tickets until you get a certain amount of credit card points. Whatever deadline it is that you have in your head, it has already past. Go shopping, make lists, pack now and keep preparing! You do not need to have everything accomplished in a certain order. Use the time while you have it.
Do it right the first time
It is important to be thorough when dealing with international documents, expedited applications aside. Read the fine print and do not cut any corners. People will notice. When applying for student or work visas you will need the results of an HIV test. Specifically, one where blood is drawn and sent to a lab. Going to a clinic and getting rapid results will not please the consulate. Booking a lab test in a time crunch? Not fun.
Don’t take out your stress out on the people around you
You still haven’t booked your flight, there is no shipping on express visas, you are going to miss your bus back home and you haven’t called your entire family to let them know you are leaving this week. However, that is not Владимир at the office’s fault. Nor is it Denice at the doctor’s fault. Don’t act like it is. Smiling at your new friends will help you both accomplish your tasks.
Enjoy the process
Feeling prepared is exciting! Good luck trying to sleep on a flight while simultaneously being squished by people and the thoughts of what you forgot to bring. You are going to Russia, which is no small feat. Vladmir at the office will turn out to be incredibly kind. You’ll appreciate Denice so much that you buy her a Starbucks gift card. The Liden and Denz staff who thought your plan was risky will greet you with beautiful smiles. Your loved ones, who don’t even want to see you leave, will reassure you that you will get that visa after all. When you land in Moscow/St. Petersburg you’ll want to be present. Being prepared allows you to step into Russia on the right foot.
Don’t do it in five weeks
Although I arrived in Moscow when intended, I doubt it was worth all of the stress. I am absolutely thrilled to be sitting here today but I would not recommend what I did to anyone. Russia is a bureaucracy. Your country is a bureaucracy. These systems will not move faster from the sheer power of your will. A trip to Russia is worth doing it right.
Official Visa Information
Russian Visa Center (Shows US, other countries are accessible through drop box at the top of the page)
Sam Cramer is currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Moscow