Russia, US to simplify visa formalities

The Russian government has approved a draft agreement with the United States, which makes it simpler for the two countries’ citizens to obtain visas. It is proposed that the agreement be concluded through the exchange of notes, according to a document posted in the databank of government acts. The same document approves the draft of a Russian note.

The agreement sets out the conditions for issuing visas for short-term official trips, as well as the conditions for issuance of Russian business, private, humanitarian and tourist visas and U.S. B1/B2 visas, the approved draft note said.

The countries’ diplomatic missions and consular departments will normally make the decision about a visa within 15 calendar days from the start of processing, the note said. The period for making a decision on a visa application can be extended in certain cases. At the same time, this period can be reduced to three business days or less in urgent cases.

The parties shall agree to issue normally multiple-entry visas for a stay of no more than six months from the date of each entry and valid for 36 months from the issue date, the draft agreement said. This agreement shall be valid, provided the parties observe the principles of reciprocity.

For short-term official trips, the parties agree to issue mainly multiple-entry visas for a stay of up to three months from the date of each entry and valid for 12 months from the issue date.

When considering a visa application, diplomatic missions may request additional information to confirm the stated purpose of the trip and available funding, the draft document said. A joint recommended list of documents for submitting such information will be agreed by the parties through diplomatic channels, the draft agreement said.

“The provisions of the note do not aim to limit the powers of the competent authorities of either party to refuse a visa, to cancel a visa, to refuse entry or exit to another country’s citizens, or to limit their stay in accordance with the national laws,” the note said.

In the event that this proposal is acceptable for the U.S., the said Russian note and the note sent by the U.S. Embassy in response shall be deemed to constitute an agreement simplifying visa formalities, which will become effective within 30 days from the date of receipt through diplomatic channels of the last written notice about completion of internal procedures, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.