For Americans, the Russian visa process is complex, prolonged, and costly. It’s also kind of a mystery—one of these matters without tough and speedy guidelines; wherein there aren’t always clear steps or clear answers. Three weeks before my ride to Russia—proper in the window of whilst you have to follow. First, I filled out an online shape that took about 45 minutes to complete. Apart from general questions on every visa application, there had been a few deep dives. Where have been my parents born? Where have been my husband’s parents born? (He wasn’t even traveling with me!) I needed to list each u. S. A. I’ve been to inside the final 10 years, and I definitely overlooked some because I actually have a terrible memory and tour a lot. But I did my first-rate, and as soon as my online utility became submitted, I turned into capable of making an appointment with the Russian Consulate.
I showed up with my passport, my inn reservations, and my visa assist letter from considered one of my motels. I had with me passport snapshots that I had taken for $26 at a drugstore for the duration of my lunch destroy. I also brought $350 in diverse payments, due to the fact I examine online that you need to pay coins, you have to have the exact amount, and also you don’t realize how much it’s going to price due to random more expenses (will you be charged $12 to duplicate your passport? TBD).
I arrived at the consulate 10 mins early for my appointment. The door was locked, and no one was there. After loitering around outdoor, someone ought to have, in the end, noticed me on the security digicam and permitted me in. I had to check my cellphone and some other cameras in a tiny locker and undergo a steel detector. Nobody spoke English, such as the person processing my visa software. It was a quick process, and I was quick authorized, but once I went to the cashier to pay, she rejected my cash. I wished a cashier’s take a look at, so they despatched me to the closest financial institution. The financial institution wouldn’t supply me a cashier’s test because I didn’t have an account there, so I went to the opposite vicinity they suggested—an Office Max. They don’t do cash orders either, so I sooner or later discovered a Western Union and was given a cash order for $270.
I grew to become away with the cashier’s aid because my cash order was made out for $271 for some reason. So I turned into like, “Just maintain the exchange!” and they have been like, “I’ll get arrested for embezzling!” (or something—I don’t communicate Russian past announcing “thank you” and “cheers”) so I needed to move lower back to Western Union.
I subsequently succeeded—or so I idea. I had submitted my application with the perfect dates, alongside my motel reservations and letter of support. So I came to choose up my passport with the visa in 10 enterprise days at every other deal with their visa pick-up middle.
The date to choose up my visa rolled around, and I went to the office with the Russians. I double-checked the dates on my visa, and my heart sank—they have been incorrect. My visa didn’t start until 3 days into my experience. I confirmed the passport administrator my software and my lodge reservations with the precise dates, but there has been nothing she ought to do. She stated she’d send my passport again to the consulate to be fixed, and I may want to pick it up once more from her in days.
Two days later, it drew near to the beginning of my ride, and I nonetheless didn’t have a visa. Two days later, it became drawing near to the start of my journey, and I nevertheless didn’t have a visa. I went to the pickup middle, and the passport administrator said the consulate couldn’t restoration it. Although the dates on my software were correct, I had only gotten a visa guide letter from the second one in which I became staying, so that they made the visa handiest based on the one’s dates. She said my quality danger was taking my passport and going to the consulate without an appointment to plead my case.
I confirmed up early the following day. By now, the doorman and I were pals. Like an expert, I locked my smartphone in a tiny locker, went thru the metal detector, and waited outside the door’s window primarily for what felt like an eternity. Finally, a very excellent consulate employee came downstairs, and I advised her what had occurred. She smiled, took my passport up a set of marble stairs, and got here down forty-five seconds later with a brand-new visa with accurate dates. It felt like a miracle, and 3 days later, I changed into a 10-hour flight to Russia.
How money orders work! You can’t just stroll into any vintage bank to get a cash order, and that they’re not as easy to come by using as you would possibly suppose. Western Union is your pleasant bet. Double test, triple check, and quadruple take a look at your paperwork. I had the entirety in order, but I took it for granted that the lodge agency might have the correct dates—I turned into staying at lodges run by using the identical organization. However, I simplest had a visa aid letter from one in every one of them (and it turned into the incorrect one). If you can’t speak, you just must smile lots from time to time, and those will take pity on you.
“Thank you” have to be the primary phrase you analyze in any language. But, unfortunately, in Russian, it seems like a “spacebar.”