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Russian Agency

Hi,

Wondering if anyone has experience with Russiable.com as an avenue for visa and travel (health) insurance. The website looks very good and quite professional. Site also seems very user friendly with multiple online forms available but I would feel better knowing someone else has used it. Looked for reviews online and found only two that were very brief but ok. I'm traveling in April/May from "the States" with stops in several cities so I really don't want to work through a variety of hotels and clearly the Russian Embassy is not the way to go. Thanks

Posted by
20 posts

Russian Embassy wouldn’t be the way to go because they don’t handle visa applications. If you want to avoid online scams, visit the embassy website and find sources they recommend.

Posted by
316 posts

... Embassy wouldn’t be the way to go because they don’t handle visa applications

...huh?

Individual applicants have the right to apply directly to the Consular Division of the Embassy of the Russian Federation to obtain a visa by making an online prior appointment at the web-site of the Consular Division

But on the whole I agree, visa centers are somewhat more user-friendly...

However, this

...the agency that Rick Steves recommends for their tour.

...looks either hopelessly out of date, or just outright strange to me:

  • Why would they recommend applying for a single-entry, when the Embassy pushes for the 3-yr multi?

  • Why use some strange third-party provider that would charge you basically double the consular fee?

I'm confused...

Posted by
1365 posts

Why use some strange third-party provider...

Rick Steves does provide the steps to get a VISA on your own. And, if those steps (as they say) "make your head spin," they also offer the information for using a Third-Party Agency.

From what I see on the Passport VISAs Express site, in addition to the $198 consular fee, they charge a $99 processing fee - more for expedited processing. (My nearest consulate, in San Francisco, closed in 2017 so in-person delivery (cheapest) is not an option - whereas it may be for you, living near D.C.)

So, while I can't explain why anyone else would choose a third-party provider, I can explain why I will ....

Normally, I am a DIY (and solo) traveler. For this trip, I didn't want to tackle Russia on my own. For the same reason that I chose the tour, and given the cost of it, I'm willing to pay $99 for extra help navigating the process and some peace of mind.

Posted by
20 posts

In my experience, the visa agency I used, following their embassy’s information, reviewed my application for completeness and advised if anything was omitted or miswritten. This prevented my application from being dismissed by the Consular division meaning I’d have to start over.

Posted by
10649 posts

I used CIBT many years ago. They said fill out the forms, and send them a pdf. They rejected the pdf and sent me instructions on how to create a new one with very, very precise margin dimensions. They said if it was off one mm it would be rejected by the embassy. Necessary? Probably not, but for $80 (if I remember correctly) I didnt have to worry about anything.

Posted by
4637 posts

James, is the stench of Moscow metro worse than the one in NYC? When I was in Moscow I did not notice. By the way Moscow metro looks more like palace than metro.

Posted by
316 posts

... on the Passport VISAs Express site, in addition to the $198 consular fee, they charge a $99 processing fee - more for expedited processing.

I see - and please don't get me wrong, I'm not dismissing the idea of paying a little extra for some peace of mind.
My problem with that particular site is that the "consular fee" is actually $160, the fee they list includes the $38 processing fee charged by the Visa Center, which, as it is, is already a third party (albeit an authorized one).
In addition, the consulate does not "expedite" processing - actually, they do offer rush processing (for emergencies only), but they don't charge extra for it. So I find the language a bit weasely if not outright misleading.

Posted by
1365 posts

the consulate does not "expedite" processing

I had interpreted that the "expediting" is on the part of the third party processing, rather than the consulate itself. If that is the case, I'm sure it's not going to make you any happier with an agency.

My problem with that particular site is that the "consular fee" is actually $160, the fee they list includes the $38 processing fee charged by the Visa Center, which, as it is, is already a third party (albeit an authorized one).

Yes, I see the exact same pricing on the Russiable.com site, with the fees broken out as you say:

The cost of a tourist visa at the Russian Visa Center is as follows:
$198: $160 in consular taxes + $38 in administrative fees
$18: letter of invitation
TOTAL: $216 per visa