Russia requires both entry and exit visas for American citizens and most other foreign nationals. You may apply through the consulate with jurisdiction over your permanent or school address only. You should consult your consulate to see which documents are required and to begin collecting them. You should plan to apply in July – early August for the fall or academic year and in November – early December or early January for the spring semester.
Because a personal appearance is required at most consulates, some students may prefer to pay a service for visa processing. Many students have used the following processing agency:
You will need to submit a completed application, passport photo(s), recent HIV test results (dated within three months of entry into Russia), fee, your original passport (which must be valid for 18 months after entry into Russia), and anything else your consulate requires. An online service exists for taking passport photos, which some students may find convenient.
Middlebury will provide you with the letter of invitation from Russia necessary to apply for your visa. In order to obtain this letter, we must have a copy of your passport. If your passport will expire less than six months before your intended return to the US, you must renew your passport immediately because Middlebury cannot request the letter of invitation without this valid passport copy. The letter takes four weeks to procure, so in order to stay on track with your visa process, do not delay in updating your passport and uploading a copy to your on-line account.
You should apply for a single-entry Russian visa valid for 90 days. This will be converted later in the semester into a multi-entry visa, valid for the length of the program in Russia. This second visa will allow you to enter and depart the country as often as you wish, for the duration of the visa. Students who wish to remain in Russia longer than their original visas will be required to obtain additional visa support and leave the country, at their own expense, to apply for a new visa.
Students should also note that at the present time, visas from one university cannot be transferred to another city or university in Russia. If a student chooses to study at a second School in Russia site during the spring semester, he/she will be required to leave the country over winter break and apply for a new visa for that new site. The student will be responsible for all visa and related travel costs.
By law, multi-entry visas cannot be replaced. If a student loses his/her visa or loses the passport into which the visa is affixed during the term of study, he/she will be given a single exit visa, valid for 30 days. He/she will have to leave Russia within that 30-day period and return to the country on an entirely new Russian visa. New visas cannot be issued in Russia and students are responsible for all costs (travel, visa, etc.) related to obtaining a new Russian visa. This process is extremely long, complicated and expensive, and we recommend that students be very careful with their passports and visas to avoid this hassle. (Multi-entry visas currently cost approximately $400, not including travel costs to leave and return to Russia.)
If you are a dual citizen (Russia-US), the Russian Federation requires that you enter Russia on your Russian passport (so no visa is needed.)