Russia easing visa restrictions
MOSCOW, Aug 6 — With the aim of attracting greater numbers of tourists to the country, the Russian government is easing the restrictive and complicated visa regime for foreigners from a number of countries.
Early this week, a bilateral agreement between the US and Russia was signed to allow US citizens to apply for a three-year multi-entry visa under which they can stay for a period of up to six consecutive months. A letter of invitation is no longer required to obtain the visa. However tourists will still need to show proof of accommodation booking in advance. The agreement, announced this week, will come into effect at a later, unspecified date.
Tourist visas to visit Russia currently involve three stages (invitation, application and registration), and can take up to one month to process. Tourists are advised to apply for a tourist visa, a single or double entry visa for a maximum of 30 days. Invitations can be issued by a hotel for free, although some charge a fee of around €20 (RM80) to E30. Independent invitations can be found online through travel agents for around €15 to €35. On arrival, tourists must fill out an immigration card and register their visa within three working days.
In 2010, visa-free agreements with Venezuela and Argentina came into effect, while Turkey, Peru, Colombia and Brazil have had access to visa-free entry since 2011. — AFP-Relaxnews