An historic visa agreement between the U.S. and Russia went into effect September 9. Under the agreement, three-year, multiple-entry visas will become the standard “default” terms for U.S. citizens visiting Russia and Russian citizens visiting the United States. No formal invitation will be required to apply for a business or tourism visa, although applicants seeking Russian tourist visas must continue to hold advance lodging reservations and arrangements with a tour operator. Both sides have also committed to keep standard visa processing times under 15 days, although the circumstances of individual cases may require additional processing.
Also on September 9, the $100 issuance – or reciprocity – fee for Russians issued U.S. visas for business or tourism (visa types B1/B2) will fall to $20. As a rule, successful visa applicants will receive the full-validity three-year visa. The $160 application fee will still apply, and validity and fees for other visa types (for example for students, workers, and journalists) will not change.
For Americans in Russia, the agreement lifts the previous restriction limiting stays in Russia to 90 days within any given 180-day period – just like Russian travelers, they will now be permitted stays of up to six months. In addition, “exit visas” will no longer be necessary in the case of U.S. citizens who lose their passports while in Russia.
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