On visa support agencies and errors in e-visa applications
We are carefully monitoring the situation with e-visas for visiting certain Russian regions. Recently 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 euros. Of course, we are not disputing foreign nationals’ right to spend money as they see fit, but we would like to remind that 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. 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 documents are processed within 4 calendar days from the date of submitting a duly filled-in application. Therefore, 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. The analysis of these reasons indicates one common circumstance, which is simply lack of attention and disregard for e-visa application guidelines 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.
In conclusion, we would like to emphasize 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 is going to be pleasant largely depend on the accuracy of the visa application.