How To Obtain A Study Visa For Russia And Other Questions
More and more students are traveling to Russia to further their studies and it’s easy to see why.
Russia offers exciting opportunities for prospective students, and the country's educational institutions are ranked among the best in the world.
However, navigating the bureaucratic avenues of obtaining a study visa to Russia can sometimes be the most challenging part of making the move to study abroad.
The move itself is well worth it, as Russia is at the forefront of various academic fields, like medicine, technology, and engineering.
Russia also offers an immersive cultural experience and the chance to broaden your horizons, always something nice to add to a resume. Couple this with the sheer vastness of the country and it's easy to see why studying in Russia is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The good news is that we’ve created this guide to show you exactly what to do to get your Russian study visa. With this guide we aim to answer some of the most frequently asked questions, thereby allowing you to focus on the more important things, like preparing for your studies. Or even learning a couple of Russian phrases and customs... Sounds good, da?
What is A Russian Study Visa?
The name itself should be self-explanatory, but let’s go over it again. You know, for those in the back of the class...
A Russian study visa is a document issued by the Russian government that allows you to study at an academic institution in the Russian Federation. Without it, you will not be able to study in Russia.
How long is a Russian Study Visa Valid For?
A study visa is only valid for 90 days. If you need to stay in Russia for longer than 90 days, you can extend your study visa for up to 1 year. To do this you, or the academic institution hosting you, needs to contact the Federal Migration office in your area.
Can I Switch Between Visa Types In Russia?
Short answer - No.
If, for any reason, you’ve traveled to Russia on a visa that is not the primary reason for your visit you’ll need to change that visa by exiting Russia, applying and obtaining your new visa, and then re-entering Russia.
So, let’s say you’ve decided to study in Russia. Your family accompanies you for the first part of the trip, helping you settle down and providing support. But, due to a mistake you’ve all been issued Russian tourist visas… The bad news is, you will have to exit Russia and enter it again on your Russian Study visa.
That’s why it is of the utmost importance for you to enter the country on the correct visa, lest you want to spend the initial part of your studies filling out paperwork and traveling in and out of the Russian federation.
How Do I Get A Russian Study Visa?
Step 1: Make sure that you have a valid passport.
Ensure that the passport you have is a viable one to travel to Russia with. This is in reference to the duration of the passport’s validity and the number of pages available in the passport.
This is one aspect that can potentially cause major issues for US students in the Russian Federation.
According to most information available, a US passport will be deemed valid for the issuing of a Russian study visa, provided that the passport has two blank pages and it’s valid for 60 days after the Russian study visa expires.
However, Russian study visas are only 90 days in length. This means that if the period of study in Russia is longer than 90 days, you’ll need to apply for an extension when you are in Russia. (We’ll explain this more a bit later on.)
And here is where the problem comes in: if you extend your study visa, your passport needs to be valid for 60 days after the last date of the extension. So if you extend it for a year, the passport needs to be valid for 60 days after the date that the extension ends.
If this is not the case the visa extension could be denied, and the student would either have to return to the US or apply for a new passport in order to reapply for the visa extension.
While this scenario is not impossible, it’s very complicated and involved, something that a busy student should avoid.
Step 2: Get a Visa Support Letter From the Academic institution where you’ll study.
For this, you’ll need to reach out to the school/university/ academy. This institution will need to generate a visa support letter for your study visa application. This document is also called a visa voucher, an invitation letter, and a letter of introduction. The letter simply states that the academic institution has invited you to further your studies with them.
The school/university/academy should know how to complete their part of the process, but for clarity on your side, you’ll need to know that they will petition either the Federal Migration Service or the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
As soon as this petition is accepted the visa support letter will be generated and issued. And you’ll be able to continue with your application.
Step 3: Fill In The Application Form and Submit the documents.
As soon as you receive the visa support letter, you should fill in the Russian visa application form. The form is available here, and you’ll need to print it, fill it out, sign it, and attach your photo to it as per the form’s specifications.
After you’ve completed the documentation, you must submit it to the Russian authorities. You have 2 options when it comes to the submission:
Option 1: Submit directly to one of the 4 Russian consulates in the US.
You can find more info on each of the consulates here:
The application must be submitted in person at the consulate. You’ll need to make an appointment to submit your application on the consulate’s website. If you send someone to submit the application in your stead, that person must be provided with a power attorney.
Option 2: Submit the application at a Russian Visa Centre.
Russian Visa Centres are agencies that have been mandated by the Russian government to help process and speed up visa applications to Russia. These agencies do not require an appointment, and they process Visa applications on a walk-in basis, for a fee.
If you can’t submit your application in person, you can always choose to mail it in. For details on the nearest Russian Visa Centre near you, you’ll need to visit their website.