Relocation Tips: Getting Your Visa and Registration in Russia
Almost all foreign citizens need a visa to enter the Russian Federation, and the type of visa depends on their purpose of entry and the length of their stay in Russia. ITMO’s International Office helps international students and employees with the entire process and with all the necessary paperwork. Here’s what you need to know to have a general understanding of the process and to stay legal while you’re here.
The first step is deciding which ITMO program you’d like to join. The type of visa and the documents required to obtain it are dependent on the program. It’s important to keep in mind that not all visas can be extended, and you will not be able to study at a Bachelor’s Degree Program with a visa received for short-term courses - you will have to go home and receive a new visa.
It is also important to remember that there is no type of student visa that automatically gives you a work permit. With a student visa you will still be able to work at the university where you study or during the holidays but always only part time. You can apply for a regular work permit with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation once you are in Russia, and you will have to do it by yourself.
After you have reviewed ITMO University admissions process, collected all the documents and received a visa, it’s time to travel to Russia! Border control is usually quite friendly. Foreigners rarely have issues if their documents are in order. As a foreign citizen, you must be registered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation upon arrival. This registration is proof of your legal status in Russia. That’s why within two working days from the moment of arrival on the territory of the Russian Federation, it is necessary to come to the Migration Services Office at ITMO University with your passport and migration card (which is obtained and filled when crossing the border of the Russian Federation). The employees of the Office will make copies of these documents, and within three working days issue a document that states your place of registration. If you’re living at one of the university’s dorms, it will have the address of the main building.
IMPORTANT: Registration, passport, migration card and proof of insurance must be carried with you at all times. They may be checked by police officers without cause.
“When you arrive to Russia, you should always get registered. This may seem like a useless procedure, but if you miss it, you might have troubles getting Russian visas in the future. For tourists the most common place to get registered is the hotel they are staying at, for students it will be the university.” explains Mia Eriksson, our intern in the international office.
If you are participating in a long-term program, you may need to extend your visa because a first-time a visa is usually issued for a maximum of three months. Therefore, a month and a half before the end of the visa’s expiration, you need to go to ITMO University’s Migration Services Office with your passport, migration card, registration and receipt for payment of the state duty (details can be obtained from the Migration Services Office, and the duty can be paid through a special terminal at Sberbank), your photo 3 * 4 cm, and your Education Contract or referral from the Ministry of Education.
Processing the documents usually takes about one working week, and then it takes another 20 working days for the visa extension to be processed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. After this period you need to stop by the Migration Services Office and pick up your new visa.
Potential ITMO Employees
If you’re about to become a part of the Fellowship and Professorship Program or to fill a vacancy, here’s how your paperwork process will work when it comes to visas and registration.
Visa & Working Contract
First of all, it is important to know that, under the laws of the Russian Federation, you can only work in the organization which has arranged your invitation, and which will be subsequently listed on your visa. Also, before requesting a visa, you need to decide how long you will spend in Russia, how often you will come here, and how long you can stay without leaving. These factors will affect the type of visa you receive, which the Center of International Faculty Support will help you to arrange.
If you are planning to come here to live, you will need a working visa. These visas are issued as single entry visas for 3 months. After your arrival in Russia, it will be extended to one year as a multi-entry visa. Your passport should have at least 1.5 years before its expiry from your planned entry date to Russia. For short-term teaching staff who don’t plan to live in Russia, a humanitarian visa can be issued. Only teachers can use this visa and work with it.
Preparing the visa invitation and posting it usually takes about a month. You will need this invitation to apply for a visa, so you need to factor this time in. Before applying for your invitation letter you will need to provide a scan of your passport and copies of higher education diplomas, as well as whatever paperwork is required by the University.
If you are a citizen of Israel, Brazil, Georgia or any other country which has a visa-free regime with Russia or can easily get a visa at the airport, you MUST still apply for a working visa in order to legally work at the University.
It is also important to know that to work in Russia you need health insurance. This will need to be arranged before signing your contract (after arrival in Russia). If you already have international health insurance, you should check with the Center of International Faculty Support as to whether your insurance will be accepted for your contract. If you don’t have insurance, the Center will help you arrange this upon arrival in Russia.
Please note that in Russia, in order to receive your salary, the University will help you to open a special salary bank account at Bank Saint Petersburg, for which you will get a card and access to online banking.
As a foreign citizen, you must be registered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation upon arriving in Russia. This registration is proof of your legal stay in Russia. If are coming for a short time and staying in a hotel, everything is simple - the hotel itself usually issues a registration (notice of the arrival of a foreign citizen) for you. But if you are in doubt about your hotel, want to rent an apartment, or, for example, plan to stay at a friend’s apartment, you need to inform the Center of International Faculty Support in advance so they can help you arrange this registration.
It is important to remember that the registration procedure should be done within 7 working days after your arrival in Russia.
IMPORTANT: Make photocopies of your registration, passport, proof of insurance and migration card and store in a safe place. Always carry with you your original registration, passport, proof of insurance and migration card.
For staff: Please contact Center of International Faculty Support with visa support and registration questions.
For students: Please contact Migration Services Office with visa support and registration questions.
Updated August 2017. Visa and registration requirements are subject to change without notice. Please rely on the Russian Federation official government sources for most up-to-date information.
International Editorial Office