If travel opens up and we are allowed in, my husband and I are taking a Viking cruise in late August 2021 from Moscow to St. Petersburg, followed by about a week and a half in the Baltic countries on our own via train or bus to Estonia, then heading south thru Latvia, Lithuania, and then a flight to Helsinki from where we will return to Florida.
I am concerned about the visa application. I’ve never gotten one before and I’m confused so I am going to outline my beliefs and then hopefully someone can correct me where I am wrong.
1) if we apply for a visa ourselves, Viking will need to get us an invitation letter. It’s the same price ($160) for a one year single entry or a 3 year visa so we may go for the 3 year. We live in SW Florida. My belief is that I send the needed info to Washington DC and that I don’t have to actually go in person. I am confused on the difference between a consulate and an embassy. Not sure what Dc is. OR We can use a company called GenVisa that Viking uses and let them apply for the visa. They will provide the invitation letter. Cost for single entry visa is $548 for 2 people and $632 for multi entry 3 yrs for 2 people. GenVisa provides a white glove service for an additional $59 each person where we don’t have to fill out any forms at all, except for a couple of simple pages. I don’t think that they are even processing visas now because of Covid. We have our shots and the waiting period. Yeah!
2). I send them the current passport only(we’ve got about 8 yrs left on them), even though most of the last ten countries that we’ve entered that we must tell them about are on the previous passport. I also notice on our current passports that when we went to England, they only stamped the exit date from England whereas on my trip to Grand Cayman on this passport in March of 2020 they stamped it only when I arrived in GC. Why the discrepancy? And will that cause a problem? I do know all actual dates for all ten trips because I keep a journal.
3). We plan on staying for an additional two nights in St. Petersburg after the Viking trip on our own (we could do Vikings 2 night post extension but we can do it a lot cheaper on our own). We are getting our own hotel. Do we need to get an additional invitation letter from that hotel? Do we need to list that somehow on the application?
4) if we do the 3 yr. visa, they don’t care that we aren’t really going to be in Russia the whole time or when we are actually coming back to Russia (in reality we would have no way of knowing that or if we will even return). I’ve seen an explanation of the dates we enter for entry and exit on a 3 yr. visa. What happens if we return to Russia? Do we need to get another invitation letter? I’m guessing not???
5) in your experience, how long, after application, did it take you to get your visa? Would you go ahead and send in paperwork for a visa, even if they aren’t issuing them currently, in anticipation that there is going to be a huge backlog when they do start processing them? I guess I shouldn’t apply at all If Viking seems wishywashy on whether they are going to operate this trip in August. We will get a total cash reimbursement or voucher for future trips if they don’t go. I’m not worried about that part.