Russia has passed a new visa law! This is good news. As of September 9th, people may apply for a three-year visa. Now, if you jumped out of your socks with joy, collect those striped paw accessories and read on.
This is a step in the right direction, with or without socks. It means that a tourist, businessperson or private visa holder may stay in country for up to six months at a time. They then have to exit the country, but may return immediately. Of course, that will have to be tested to see if border officials will immediately allow visa holders back into Russia or not. In Russia one can interpret a law quite creatively and entirely different from day to day.
Now you may be saying to yourself, “I thought the first paragraph stated a three year term for the new visa. But the second paragraph clearly states a Russian visa holder may stay in Russia for up to six months. What gives?” Good question. If you receive a three-year visa from Russia, you should view it as equivalent to receiving six six-month visas. That would be the proper way of understanding your visa, because you will not be staying for a three-year term. So, are you a traveler? Good. Your opportunity to exit Russia’s borders and visit some new foreign land will await you every six months. But smile adventurer! Put your socks back on, for you will not taste the woes enforced prior to these new requirements when the following equations held true:
Tourist + 1 month stay = exit for revisafication* (Apply for a new visa.)
Spouse of Russian citizen + 3 months stay = exit for revisafication*
Businessperson + 6 months stay = exit for six months before you may return on the same visa.
*The revisafication process could be anywhere from one week to one month, the Russian consulate being in possession of your passport the entire time.
**During that period Russian citizens were issued two-year visas to the United States with no requirement to exit the US until the visa expired.