Last Updated: June 07, 2021
Russian Student Visa
Russia with its internationally recognized educational system provides a multitude of opportunities to international students, covering a diverse field of study. Russia’s leading universities with top world rankings, good educational resources, and excellent facilities combined with a rich and prestigious culture make it one of the top attractive destinations for students to pursue their higher education. Every year Russia draws nearly thousands of students from different parts of the world, presenting them with numerous opportunities to shape their career path. Whether a student is considering to apply for higher studies in Russia or is already in the process of applying, the most significant step to take into account is acquiring a comprehensive knowledge of the visa application process.
Normally, it takes around 2-5 weeks for a visa application to get processed but the applicant can speed up the process by paying some additional fee. It is advisable to start with the application process 40-45 days before one’s expected date of arrival in Russia.
Choosing a Course
Russia offers a wide range of courses for undergraduates, graduates, masters, and research students. Before initiating the application process, make sure to explore the plethora of educational programs offered by the State Universities and Private Institutions, and once the course is selected, the student can move onto preparing a list of universities offering these courses and the eligibility criteria.
Types of Student Visas for International Students and their Validity
There are two distinct types of educational visas offered by Russia depending upon the duration of stay:
- Short-term stay visa which is valid for up to 3 months and is eligible for students looking to apply for internships, language courses, short-term diploma courses for a maximum duration of 3 months.
- Long-term visa that holds the validity for 1 year is applicable if the student wants to pursue full-time courses in the University. Initially, the visa is granted for a short-term stay of 3 months only, however, the student can apply for an extension at the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Interior Ministry of Russia. After that, a student is granted a 1-year multi-entry visa which can be renewed and further extended for one year at a time, as per the requirements. The same process can be repeated till the completion of the course takes place.
- Humanitarian visa is a special type of visa that is granted to post-doctoral researchers or students attending seminars related to the field of science or culture and is valid for 1 year.
Who Needs to Apply for the Russian Student Visa?
Citizens of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are exempted from applying for a visa as they are permitted to enter Russia carrying their national passports only. Some countries also have visa-free arrangements with Russia which allows for their citizens to enjoy a short-term stay extending up to 3 months. However, it is advisable to go for a proper visa application process in case the student is planning for a long term stay in the country.
Countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan do not require an international passport or visa to visit Russia.
Cost of Russian Student Visa
The total cost involved in the visa application process can vary from country to country as different aspects are taken into consideration to determine the overall cost. The final amount usually covers the Processing fee, VFS service charge, and optional Value Added Services (which the student may or may not pay).
Please note that all the payments made in this case are non-refundable.
Steps to Applying for a Russian Student Visa
After finalizing the course of study, the student should begin the application process in the desired University. After the selection process is over, the student needs to secure his/her place in the course by paying the enrolment fee and accepting the Invitation letter issued by the University/Institute. The Invitation Letter is an official document provided by the host organization to confirm the student's enrolment in the course and it acts as an additional document to facilitate the visa application process.
- After receiving the invitation letter, the student needs to fill an online application form available at the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Once the application form is submitted, the student will be asked to appear at the nearest office of the Russian Embassy in their country of origin, along with the required documents. The application fee is to be made, and as stated earlier the cost can vary depending upon the citizenship and other factors.
- The student is required to collect an immigration card as soon as he enters the Russian borders, a copy of which will remain with the Border Authorities. This immigration card is important to keep a track of movements in and out of the country. A new immigration card is issued every time a person enters the country.
- Within 7 days of their arrival in Russia, the students need to get themselves registered with the Federation Migration Service of the Russian Federation.
Documents Required to Apply for Russian Student Visa
Here is a list of all the documents needed to initiate the visa application process :
All documents are required to be translated in the Russian language, duly certified by the Consulate Office.
- International passport (original) with at least two blank pages and a copy of the front page
- An invitation letter issued by the host University or the Federation Migration Service of RF (original)
- Application form with all the correct details
- Photograph of size 3.5 * 4.5 cm
- A valid negative HIV test report, not older than three months from the date of the application
- Parental consent if the student is below 18 years of age
Steps to be Taken to Extend the Stay in Russia
The students are granted a short-term visa of 3 months initially and it can be extended depending upon the duration of the course. A request for visa extension should be made 30-40 days before the date of expiration at the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Interior Ministry of Russia.
After this, the student will be issued a 1-year multi-entry visa which can be used to travel in and out of Russia for a specified duration. The student needs to reapply for the extension before the expiry of their 1-year visa depending upon the duration of the course.
Please note that every time a visa extension is requested, the student also needs to register at the Migration Office. The students can contact the International Office of their respective Universities to extract further information. Here’s a step-by-step guide to applying for the visa extension process:
- Fill in the online visa extension application form with the correct details.
- The student needs to pay a state duty of 1600 rubles after signing the visa services agreement at the Migration and Visa Support Office.
- After that, the student will be asked to visit the Migration and Visa Support Office along with the following list of documents:
Passport, Migration card, Registration slip, two passport size photographs, state duty payment receipt.
- The passport is usually returned the very next day. However, it takes at least 30 days for a new visa to be issued.
- The student needs to appear at the office again on the day of the appointment with his/her passport, migration card, and registration slip. The 1-year visa can be renewed annually, following the same procedure, until the completion of the course.
Working While Studying in Russia
International students require a work permit which allows them to work for 20 hours per week in and around the campus. The students can also look for a part-time job outside the campus provided they do not comprise with their grades and meet their academic deadlines. Part-time working is a convenient way for international students to support themselves financially and overcome monetary constraints.
Steps to Extend the Stay in Russia After Completion of the Course
The students can apply to work with the foreign students at the University Department 20-40 days before their visa expiration date. Here’s a list of all the documents needed to ensure the visa extension:
- Application form with a colored passport size photograph
- International passport
- Contract/Assignment for study issued by the Ministry of Education and Science of RF
- Intercession from University explaining the reason for visa extension
- A receipt confirming the payment of state duty
- The detachable section of the notification form, issued by the respective University
- Admission form
Some Things to Remember
- The international student should at least start with the application 40-45 days before the actual travel date to ensure the smooth working of the entire process.
- The student should carry a valid passport with at least two blank pages. The student may be asked to produce some additional documents by the Russian Embassy.
- Do thorough research and acquire knowledge about the grants and scholarships offered by the Universities of the Russian Government. There are plenty of funding options provided by the government to help International students meet their financial objectives.