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Getting a Russian visa in San Francisco, in person

Getting a Russian visa in San Francisco, in person

Old Jun 24th, 2017, 08:01 AM
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Getting a Russian visa in San Francisco, in person

After three visits to the Russian Visa Office (Invisa) in San Francisco, I have my passport and visa.

Here are some thoughts on the process:

I am lucky that I live close to Invisa and had enough time to make the three trips there before my August visit to St. Petersburg. I am lucky that I am computer-literate and fluent in English.

It occurred to me to see what a Russian would have to do to get a visa to come to the US. The US application appears to be similar to the Russian application and to the old Indian application-- all done by computer. In addition, many applicants have no choice but to appear in person at a US consulate or embassy for an interview.

Back to my story-- someone came in to get an application but was told everything had to be done on a computer and submitted by computer. No paper applications are available!

On my first visit I had not realized that the form had to be submitted electronically first. I had printed mine out but not submitted it. I thought the print-out would suffice.

I had to go home to press “submit” then return to the visa office.

I also did not realize that I had to print out the whole application again even though no information had been changed. I had just printed out the last page with the signature line! Luckily they could print out the other 4 pages for me @50 cents per page.


At the SF office, there are five windows. Only one is for “individuals.” Two are for agencies, and one is for Russian passports. The fifth is for the cashier. I had been under the impression that only cashier’s checks and cash were accepted for payment. But credit cards are OK if you pay a 3.5% fee. Even personal checks are OK, with a $50 charge if they bounce.

I had to wait 10 days and then return for my passport. When you pay the fees, they give you a date for when it will be ready. The expedited version seems to be ready at the end of the day.

I recommend that you make an appointment. The first time I went, there was a short wait. The second time, I got the last seat in the room. The third time I just had to fill out a form and sign it at the cashier’s window. No appointment was necessary.

Getting into the old-fashioned building is a little tricky. Just follow the instructions, and all will be well.

The SFMOMA is next door. If you don’t care for modern art, the fifth floor restaurant has a good selection of food and drink.
cordeliajc is offline  
Old Jun 24th, 2017, 09:33 AM
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Getting the visa is a PITA,
but it is worth the effort.
I loved SP and Moscow.
danon is online now  
Old Jun 24th, 2017, 11:48 AM
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The Russian visa application process is alot easier today than it used to be, in case you think today's process is a PITA. Russia is worth the effort and cost of getting a visa. I've had over 20 Russian visas.

As for Russians, they need a visa to go almost everywhere and they don't moan about it, they know they need a visa and just deal with it.
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Old Jun 24th, 2017, 12:05 PM
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There are agencies that do all of this work for you, though you do pay extra for the simplicity. My friend used an agency last year to get her Russian visa. After she filled out the application, she just sent the agency her application, her passport, and a check (or she paid online in advance). After a certain amount of time, she received her passport back and her visa. For those of us who don't live in a city with a visa office, this might be the way to go. I thought about doing it last year when visiting St. Petersburg but did the 72 hour visa free ferry option instead.
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