Saturday, July 1, 2017

[VISA] Russia (Single Entry)


There are two venues for Russian visa applications in Manila. The first one is at the embassy itself inside Dasmariñas Village. Rumor has it that you can apply there ONLY by invitation, and there are a lot of anecdotes on how strict that village is granting entry to outsiders. For us ordinary mortals, we have to go to their office at Rada near Greenbelt. Applications can be lodged MWF from 10 AM to 12 PM. You don’t need to schedule an appointment. Just walk in with your requirements.

Print the application form that you can download online and attach a passport-sized photo. The most important document you need is the invitation letter + tourist voucher which you can get online. I highly recommend http://ivisaonline.com/order-visa-invitation?country=PHL. You have to pay around USD50 (~PHP2,500) for it but you will get the soft copy in your email after five minutes or so. No hassles. AT ALL. Medical insurance is not required for Philippine passport holders.

Flight tickets are not required either, but the half-senile megalomaniac guard who thinks he’s the consul will ask for it before he lets you in. I also included a copy of my Airbnb reservations just to be sure. Regular processing takes two weeks and costs PHP3,612 for single entry. Rush processing (five working days) is double the price at PHP7,224. Double and multiple entry visas cost way more. After submitting your documents, they give you a paper containing payment information.

You have to pay at UCPB. You CAN’T pay the fee BEFORE submitting your documents. After getting your receipt from the bank, you have to go back to the embassy again and submit it at the window. After that, you get your claim stub. Understanding the processing time is simple. Submit on a Monday, get your visa next Monday, or the next if you opted for regular processing. A friend of mine applied a few months ago and he said it was smooth sailing, so I expected the same thing.

Unfortunately, us mere mortals were ambushed by the Russia trip of Philippine government officials and their delegates, numbering to around 300 of them. For some reason, they thought that it would be fun to apply for the visa one week before they all leave. Like, yeah, they will be prioritized anyway and they know it, right? Who cares about everybody else. This means everyone else had to appear at the embassy a total of four times or more from submission to claiming, wasting entire days waiting for nothing.

But let’s no longer elaborate on that. The bottom line is I got the visa in the end anyway. The embassy is strict with the entry and exit dates so make sure yours are accurate. The norm is to give exactly what is stated on the invitation letter. Having to apply again will be a costly mistake on your part, so keep this in mind.

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