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Thread: US - Russia Visas

  1. #21
    Hanna
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    Yes, that is "Plan B" if it turns out completely impossible to get a Russian visa.
    (It's only because I am so interested that I haven't given up yet. Any normal person would have given up a long time ago.)

    "Plan B" is to go to Daugavpils (Russian speaking) in Latvia, then Riga and Jurmala (beach resort) then to Estonia and ferry to Finland, then whatever way back from Finland, for example ferry. I'd like to pass the Åland islands on the way back to Sweden, for a personal reason.

    Alternatively I could just take the ferry straight from Riga to Stockholm.

    All these places, are relatively unexciting for me though - I've already been there, I know a fair bit about them and I'm not that keen on Baltic people.

    The cool and interesting thing for me to do would be to go back via St Petersburg (which will be totally unrecognisable for me, I am sure) and then some places in Karelia and perhaps as far up as Murmansk, and then go to Scandinavia from there.

    There used to be a ferry from St Petersburg to Stockholm but it was closed down a few years ago, so now it is necessary to go via Helsinki.

    As you may have guessed, this is a "no-flying" trip.

  2. #22
    Старший оракул CoffeeCup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna
    I have no idea how Russians are treated when they apply for EU visas, but if the process is half as ridiculous as that for Russian visas, then I am really ashamed.
    Different states of EU have different rules for Russians to get EU visa. For an example, a couple years ago French embassy started to take your application only if you present it to them personally. Not a big deal for those who live in Moscow, but for those who live in Novosibirsk it is a great problem: there are 3500 km from Novosibirsk to Moscow. An applicant has to take a plane at early morning spend USD 500 and 4 houes to flight to Moscow, put his face in to the French embassy window just for the girl to check that it is his face on the documents and spend USD 500 and 4 hours again to flight back to Novosibirsk. Needless to say that occasionally all the appropriate flights back to Novosibirsk are scheduled at a night time, so to add to applicant's impressions a two-day's non sleeping non-stop. if you think that the guys from Novosibirsk are complaining then think of the guys from Vladivistok which is twice as distant from Moscow as Novosibirsk. Thanks God there are other states in EU which embassies accept the documents sent with an express courier service.

    This is why it is a good idea to fully plan your trip in advance.
    So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

  3. #23
    Hanna
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    Typical that it should be the French of all people who are doing that. They are known for meaningless bureaucracy and lack of sympathy for people affected. Most other countries would be a bit logical and sensible about this.

    For Schengen visas, I think that it does not matter what country you actually apply for a visa to. I don't know what would happen if you applied to the German embassy for example, and then went to France instead, and then leaving without having been in Germany at all. The hotel bookings can apparently be ignored completely. The only problem is if the person has no credit card that would work in the EU (this happens for Belarussians), or if they book the hotel but don't turn up, the hotel has their details and might charge them anyway.

    And while honest Russians are treated in this way, crazy islamists and african drug barons are simply WALKING across the eastern borders into the EU, or dropped at a beach in Southern Europe. I hate to admit it, but the Russians and Americans are right when they think that the refugee problem in Europe is out of control. It is, and it will probably only get worse. Lord only knows what the solution is.

    The requirement to have a visa organised takes the spontaneity out of travelling though, for example when doing a trip like the one I'm doing now.

    I don't care about America either way, because going there requires flying and it's not totally unreasonable to get a visa at the same time as booking the ticket. But in Europe people should be able to get on a train or a ferry without all this hassle!

  4. #24
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    The only problem is if the person has no credit card that would work in the EU (this happens for Belarussians)
    How come? Their paradise creators forgot about this little thing?

  5. #25
    Hanna
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    You are being a muppet on purpose, aren't you?
    They have Visa Electron, not the standard Visa! Electron is just not accepted everywhere that's all. And believe it or not, it's not a human right or a requirement for a fulfilled life, to have a Visa card. It's simply useful if you are going to book a hotel in Western Europe, that's all.

    And regardless what you think of Lukashenko & co, thanks to him the Belarussians escaped the degrading chaos and national humilition that Russia went through in the 1990s. It's just the last few years it's become fashionable to complain about dictatorship there. Previously nobody cared. Whether Lukashenko is good or bad for the country now, is hard to say. I certainly can't say, and neither can you! The only people whose opinion I really respect on this are the Belarussians, and between the ones I have asked, the split is about 50-50 what they think, with educated people in Minsk being the most suspicious against him.

    But this is not a poor dump.
    My pictures from rural villages are coming soon and it's not as bad as you imagined. Right now I am writing from a very chic coffeeshop where Belarussians are sitting with laptops and other gadgets, eating very tasty food and drinking Italian coffee.

  6. #26
    Завсегдатай Basil77's Avatar
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    Hanna, I must say that embassies of EU countries are not being very nice while giving visas for Russian citizens either. I personally know two people who's request for German visas was denied without ANY explanation after they filled all the forms, stood in all those long lines, payed fees and stuff. The only answer they got was "sorry, but we have the right to refuse without explanations and you have payed for the consideration of your visas, the fact you have payed fee does not guarantee that you shall actually get a visa". And those were young decent middle-class people without any criminal background or such. My own mom, a respectable old lady, when she was getting a tourist visa at Sweden embassy a couple of years ago had to bring reference to her property and bank account to prove that she is not a beggar and not planning to emigrate. All this things are quite humiliating, so Russia is not the ONLY bad player in this game.
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

  7. #27
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by Basil77
    (...)Russia is not the ONLY bad player in this game.
    Yes, totally agree and I have read other stories about Russians being denied visas for absolutely no good reason. Your mother's experience is terrible, there is no other word for it! Europeans should not have to be humiliated when they want to travel in Europe. What was she going to do in Sweden by the way?

    I think it would mean so much, symbolically, for friendship and understanding in Europe, if anyone could travel anywhere without visa. Personally I have no interest in denying Americans visa free travel in Russia, but that's a matter between Russia and the US and not my business. Americans don't need a visa for Europe (apart from Russia and Belarus) anyway.

    If anyone is going to Scandinavia the land route, then it's probably easiest to get a visa for Finland - they give visas to all Russians with no hassle, I have heard.

    The reason I am having trouble now, is to a large extent my own fault - it can't be denied. I am sure I would have no problem at all, if I had simply started the process 3 weeks before leaving, while still in London.
    The problem is that I was really busy in the period leading up to this journey. I thought that a Russian visa was a mere formality, "pay& go".... I didn't even research it because I was so sure that it would be easy. I also assumed that the procedure was the same regardless of which embassy I went to.
    As it turns out, it is significantly easier (less paperwork) to get the visa in the country where you live, or in the country where your passport is from. If not, then a whole host of other conditions kick in, and they are not really well known or well documented. There are a few cumbersome formalities too.
    But certainly, nobody has asked for the kind of stuff that your mother got asked for.

    But I feel very strongly that this visa requirement creates problem for NORMAL people who just want a holiday, whereas it does nothing to prevent crooks, spies and undesirable people from entering either the EU or Russia.

    America, is "protected" from suspect Europeans by the Atlantic, in a way, but illegally crossing one of the land borders into Russia or the EU is reputedly not hard at all.

    I am leaning towards passing on Russia actually. I just simply can't be fussed hanging around Minsk anymore waiting for stuff to happen. I might try again in Riga, just in case the embassy there is more relaxed about wanting original invitation. It's a real shame, because going to Russia was the main plan for this trip.
    But I can go later, I suppose.

  8. #28
    Завсегдатай Basil77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    Your mother's experience is terrible, there is no other word for it! Europeans should not have to be humiliated when they want to travel in Europe. What was she going to do in Sweden by the way?
    As far as I know it's a common requirement for all Schengen countries for Russian citizens. They wouldn't give you a visa if you haven't a certain amount of money on your account or haven't certain property or haven't a stable and well-payed job. It was an ordinary tourist trip, my mom went on ferry from St.Petersburg to Stockholm and spent several weeks in Sweden and Norway. She likes to travel and spend every vacation in some trip. My wife always complains about the fact that she does not want to act like a typical Russian 'babushka' spending her vacations at dacha with grandchildren.
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

  9. #29
    Hanna
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    I am in Vitebsk at the moment. Really nice town!
    I have decided to give up on Russia. Cutting my losses.
    Russia will be there for my next holiday too.... I am going to Latvia after this.

  10. #30
    Завсегдатай Basil77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    I am in Vitebsk at the moment. Really nice town!
    Unfortunately you've come to Vitebsk a bit early. About two weeks from now Slavyansky Bazar fest will begin, I've been there at once, it's really worth visiting!
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

  11. #31
    Почтенный гражданин capecoddah's Avatar
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    A few thoughts.
    Basil, Most countries where a Visa is necessary have requirements to "prove" you will go home. Russia is no different. I can get an invitation from people I know for a 3 month Visitor status. BUT, I have to have a ticket home and they kinda want me to have a reason to come home like a job, house, family, money, stuff, etc. The J-1 "kids" that come here have to prove all that and jump through a few other hoops as well such as English proficiency. A few stay beyond their visa, and reside as illegals now. Personally, in my small area of the USA, the few Russians here "off the books" are better than the loads of Brazilians here "off the books". They don't segregate themselves, assimilate well and don't whore themselves. Meaning not here just for $, they genuinely like being here.

    Hanna, Congratulations on Belarus! I have quite a few friends there but was basically told I couldn't visit by them. A fist-full of invitations by well respected citizens wouldn't do much good. "You are too American" was the consensus. That's too bad and too political and beyond my control or influence. My friends in the Trinity area have moved and I'm sorry because they would be good tour guides and hosts. They might even say I was a nice guy.
    Yes, you screwed up. Russia is notorious for bureaucracy. This is a known factor for a visit. EU, Swede, Brit or USA. I visit Washington DC on occasion and have met some Russian Embassy staff "after hours". Most were very nice and offered advice about how to get a visa faster. A couple were miserable bureaucrats trying to live up to a stereotype. I wish you nothing but the best of luck. Perhaps a Master Russian will extend a Personal Invitation.

    ALL countries set limits on immigration. Based upon many factors. That's reality. USA used to take in all Russians, not anymore. We are a big place, but we only have so much space. Mexico wants easier regulations to emigrate to the US. You should see the requirements they have for Americans emigrating!

    Life is not fair. That's why it's called life.
    I'm easily amused late at night...

  12. #32
    Hanna
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    Haha, Capecoddah - yes, there probably is such a thing as being "too American" for Belarus.
    People are a bit shy and you are not going to get any "how can I help you today, Sirs" or "Have a nice days!" in this country. Not to mention the politics. The people are among the most honest and kindest nationality I have ever come across though. It's one of the last countries in Europe where there is no mass tourism. You can't even find a postcard and you have all the sights (there are plenty) to yourself.

    But you COULD get a visa, I am sure. On what grounds could they deny you? There is no ban on Americans even though admittedly not everyone (particularly not Lukashenko) likes the US. But you could for example buy a fake business invitation online, then you simply say that you are going as a consultant to the company that issued the invitation. Once you are in the country, all you need to do is check into a hotel and register your visa for the duration of the stay.

    I saw an American (could have been Canadian, I suppose) at McDonalds in Minsk. He was having such trouble placing an order for a BigMac meal, that he had 4 staff members helping him..... and quite an audience!
    LOL!

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    Haha, Capecoddah - yes, there probably is such a thing as being "too American" for Belarus.
    People are a bit shy and you are not going to get any "how can I help you today, Sirs" or "Have a nice days!" in this country. Not to mention the politics. The people are among the most honest and kindest nationality I have ever come across though. It's one of the last countries in Europe where there is no mass tourism. You can't even find a postcard and you have all the sights (there are plenty) to yourself.

    But you COULD get a visa, I am sure. On what grounds could they deny you? There is no ban on Americans even though admittedly not everyone (particularly not Lukashenko) likes the US. But you could for example buy a fake business invitation online, then you simply say that you are going as a consultant to the company that issued the invitation. Once you are in the country, all you need to do is check into a hotel and register your visa for the duration of the stay.

    I saw an American (could have been Canadian, I suppose) at McDonalds in Minsk. He was having such trouble placing an order for a BigMac meal, that he had 4 staff members helping him..... and quite an audience!
    LOL!
    LOL at that staff. Wherever else in Europe can you find a MC's where the staff can't speak proper English?

    I'm not sure WHAT is worth visiting there, but living there is not a box of chocolates for sure. The people are blocked from many opportunities each European naturally has.

    By the way, Hanna, since you're still there, try buying some Euros for their local currency for your next trip, and then tell us if it was easy.

  14. #34
    Hanna
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    By the way, Hanna, since you're still there, try buying some Euros for their local currency for your next trip, and then tell us if it was easy.
    I did, and I had to pay 6000 BYR to the dollar, instead of the real price which is 5000.

    LOL at that staff. Wherever else in Europe can you find a MC's where the staff can't speak proper English?
    You need to travel more...

  15. #35
    Почтенный гражданин capecoddah's Avatar
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    From the Moscow Times:
    Beyrle: Visas Bigger Deal Than Arms Pact

    05 July 2011
    By Andrew McChesney
    U.S. Ambassador John Beyrle said Monday that the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty was important but the real highlight of a "reset" in U.S.-Russian ties would come next week with the signing of agreements on liberalized visa rules and child adoptions.
    The two countries' top diplomats, Hillary Clinton and Sergei Lavrov, are to sign a deal granting three-year multiple-entry visas and eliminating the need to secure visa invitations during July 12-14 talks in Washington.
    They will also sign a long-awaited accord aimed at restarting child adoptions, which stalled in April 2010 when a U.S. mother sent her 7-year-old adopted son back to Russia unaccompanied on a plane.
    Beyrle, speaking at a U.S. Independence Day celebration attended by about 2,000 guests at his Spaso House residence, said the agreements illustrate that the United States' relationship with Russia has changed dramatically since he arrived in Moscow on July 3, 2008 — just in time to address a similar July 4 gathering at Spaso House.
    "We can talk about a lot that we have got done together over the last three years, especially this past year, over the past 12 months," Beyrle said, making his remarks first in Russian and then in English.

    full story:

    Beyrle: Visas Bigger Deal Than Arms Pact | News | The Moscow Times
    I'm easily amused late at night...

  16. #36
    Завсегдатай sperk's Avatar
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    meanwhile in Britain they're demanding that Andrey Lugovoy be convicted for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko before any change in the visa system can be made.
    Телекомпания НТВ. Официальный сайт | Новости НТВ | Луговой в обмен на британские визы
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

  17. #37
    Почтенный гражданин capecoddah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sperk View Post
    meanwhile in Britain they're demanding that Andrey Lugovoy be convicted for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko before any change in the visa system can be made.
    Телекомпания НТВ. Официальный сайт | Новости НТВ | Луговой в обмен на британские визы
    You know there is going to be some politicking, but that is par for the course.

    "Meanwhile, on the other side of the island". Americans should know that means a volcano is going to explode or cannibals have landed.
    I'm easily amused late at night...

  18. #38
    Hanna
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    Those crazy Russians!!! The Litvinenko case is so horrible. Poor man, no matter what he did he should not have died in such a terrible way.

    I can understand that Russia does not surrender Lugovoi though - everyone who has been reading British papers *knows* that he is guilty, so he would not get a fair trial at all.

    That murder case is the craziest I have ever heard of. How can anyone dream up such a crazy way of killing someone. Why didn't they just shoot him? (not that I approve of killing people whatsoever).

    But I don't see how this isolated incident is relavant to the visa negotiations.
    I think it's a really urgent priority for Europe to get rid of travel restrictions for European citizens on the European continent. I think it's more important than nukes - that's a long term issue to get rid of those.

  19. #39
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    That murder case is the craziest I have ever heard of. How can anyone dream up such a crazy way of killing someone. Why didn't they just shoot him?
    Это была провокация.

  20. #40
    Hanna
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    Why should only Crocodile and Eric C get to "troll" and never me? Anyway, I was mostly joking. But it WAS a truly horrible murder though, and all the known evidence is pointing at Lugovoi.
    I don't think it has any connection with visas though.

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