How to get a Russian visa invitation letter

Published by Mike Lomberg March 26, 2020

My friends from the US finally decided to fulfill their long-cherished plan to travel to Russia last summer. They started by reading different articles online and found that first they needed a special invitation from Russia to be able to apply for a visa. Numerous blogs and a bunch of agencies offering visa support services made them pretty confused and afraid of fraud, so they asked for my advice and guidance, and on helping them to safely get their visas, I decided to clarify the situation with Russian visa invitations by writing this article. 

The consular department of the Russian Federation in foreign states issues different types of visa depending on the purpose of your journey and its duration. To apply, a foreign national or stateless person has to submit a set of documents, including a valid national passport, completed visa application, recent color picture, travel insurance and an appropriate invitation letter from the Russian inviting party. Let’s have a closer look at the last document from this list. 

What is an invitation letter? What are the different types? Which type do I need? How do I get one? 

An invitation letter is a document issued by the host party, or by an official organization upon the request of the host party, and holding certain information – passport details of the invited person, dates of travel, purpose of travel, place of intended stay; as well as details of the inviting party – full name of organization or person, registration number of the organization,  contacts, relation to the invited individual, additional information on sponsorship and responsibilities held over the invited individual during his or her stay on the territory of Russia.

Types of Russian invitation letters:

Invitation letters fall into different categories, depending on the purpose of your trip:

Below you will find more detailed information on each invitation type.

Tourist invitation

A tourist invitation (or to use its official name, a ‘confirmation of the reception of the tourist by the Russian travel agency registered in the Uniform Federal Register of Tour Operators of the Federal Tourism Agency’) is a document required to apply for a tourist visa. Important: a simple hotel reservation is not enough to obtain a Russian visa. The above named document is accepted in a high quality printed copy or original. It consists of two parts, one of which is the confirmation and another a voucher. It contains the following information both in English and Russian:

Such an invitation can be obtained within one day from the hotel you plan to stay at, if it has the necessary registration in the Federal Tourism Agency, or from the Travel agency you’ve booked a tour with. Alternatively, you can order it online through a visa support center. You will receive it by email and print for submission to the consulate. The cost may vary but usually does not exceed 30 USD per document. 

Business invitation

Russian Business Electronic invitation sample

The invitation of this type should contain the full name of the inviting company, all contacts, passport details of the invited person, dates of expected travel, city of stay, purpose of visit, work position of the invited person, address of the employer, guarantees and responsibilities of both the inviting company and the invited person.

Invitation letter for personal trips

Russian private paper original invitation sample

In order to apply for a private a.k.a. guest/visitor visa a foreign national or stateless person should submit to the Russian consulate an official invitation for guest visits issued by the MIA of Russia upon request of the host Russian citizen. To obtain such an invitation, a Russian citizen, an official resident of the Russian Federation or a legal entity must submit a petition to the local office of the migration service of Russia asking to issue an invitation for the foreign citizen, or order such service on the web portal gosuslugi.ru. Documents to be submitted to the migration service include:

The processing of a private invitation might take up to 20 working days from the date of application.

If a foreign individual is going to arrive in Russia accompanied by a family member holding a Russian citizenship, a written statement to the Russian Consul in a foreign state, accompanied by the document proving family ties, is enough to apply for a private/guest visa.

For US citizens: 

A notarized written statement from the hosting individual residing in Russia is accepted instead of the official invitation issued by MIF. 

US citizens are recommended to apply for the 3-year multiple entry private visa, regardless of the actual travel dates.

Letter of invitation for studies

To provide you with the student visa, your chosen educational institution in Russia will have to obtain the official invitation from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia in original form or a telex directive and send it to you. The issuance of such a document might take up to 1.5 months. The invitation must be provided free of charge by the chosen institution as part of visa support. A student invitation is issued for 90 days maximum, with single or double entry. Upon arrival in Russia the student visa can be extended for the remainder of your study.

Letter of invitation for work visa

Foreign individuals planning to carry out work activities under a paid contract on the territory of Russia must receive an official invitation granted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia (Federal Migration Service department) upon request from the employing company. A standard work invitation is issued for 90 days, with single/double entry and the possibility of extension on the territory of Russia under the employment contract conditions.

A highly qualified specialist invitation is issued for three years multiple entry, with the possibility of extension in Russia. The inviting company must submit to the Federal Migration Service a petition in the specified form, an employment contract with the indicated salary of no less than two million rubles per year for a highly qualified specialist, and a written guarantee to cover any expenses in case of the need of deportation of the invited person.

The issuance of work invitation might take one to two months. The invitation is submitted to the Russian consulate only in paper original so be sure to ask for prompt delivery from Russia to your address.

Now that you know about the different types of invitation and how to obtain them, you can identify which one you need for your travelling purposes, and start preparing your visa application documents. I do hope this article helped you to clarify these points – if you still have questions do not hesitate to write and get your free visa consultation today!