Applicants from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine need their national passport to visit Russia. Prospective students from other countries, including the CIS countries not mentioned above need an international passport to come to Russia.
Even though Russia has visa-free arrangements with many countries, the duration of a visa-free stay is limited to 1 or 3 months, as such arrangements are designed for tourists, not long-term visitors. In theory, a student from a country which has visa-free arrangements with Russia can enter using only their passport, but after the permitted stay is over they will have to leave the country and re-enter it with a valid student visa. Therefore, it is simply better to get a student visa in the first place.
Visiting Russian compatriots1 also have to provide relevant ID.
Where to Apply for a Student Visa
Student visas are obtained through the Russian Embassy (Consular Department) or Russian Consulate in your country of residence. In certain countries there are authorised visa centres2 which provide such services.
Please refer to the website of the Consular Division of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for further information.
Initially, a student visa is issued for three months. After this period you should apply to the local division of the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation (FMS of Russia) for a visa extension. The FMS issues a one-year multi-visa which allows you to travel to and from Russia within the validity period of the visa. When your visa is about to expire, you should apply for a further 1-year extension, and carry on in this manner for the duration of your academic programme.
Documents Required for a Student Visa
International passport (original) and a copy of the front page.
Official invitation for entry to Russia (original). Please refer to the section on Obtaining an Invitation for more details.
Application form (you can fill in the e-form here).
Photograph 3.5 x 4.5 cm (1.18 x1.57 inches).
HIV-negative status certificate.
For applicants under 18 years – parental consent to travel certified by a notary.
This is a general list. Consult the Russian Embassy or Consulate in your country regarding your application.
If the applicant received a place at a university through a standard procedure or is a fee-paying student, the invitation will be sent by the university. You will need the original invitation to submit the visa application.
Validity term of the invitation
You can start the process of obtaining an invitation 45 days prior to the actual travel date. The invitation is valid for three months.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 18 months from the issue date of your visa. Your passport should contain at least two blank pages.
HIV-negative status certificate requirements
The certificate should contain passport details of the holder, information on the duration of their stay in Russia, and the particulars of the HIV test (date, medication series used, official stamp of the medical facility that conducted the test, the signatures of the doctor and the person tested). The document should be issued in Russian and in English and be valid for three months.
When can I start my visa application?
You can start the visa application process 45 days prior to the planned date of arrival in Russia.
When will I receive my visa?
Student visas are normally issued within two or three weeks. Visa centres can speed up the visa process for an additional fee.
How much will it cost?
The cost of the visa depends on your host country. Information on the cost of the visa can be obtained from the Russian Consulate or a visa centre in your country.
How do I extend my visa?
Contact your university’s international office 30 or 40 days prior to the expiry date of your current visa.
Documents you need:
Completed form and a photograph.
Copy of your enrolment agreement or referral from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.
A written request in free form, stating the grounds for the visa extension.
Stamp duty (payment receipt).
Detachable section of the arrival notification form (issued upon migration registration).
Migration card (original and copy).
In addition, every time you obtain a visa extension you have to register at the migration office. Contact your university’s international office for additional information and assistance.
Cost of visa extension
In 2015, the stamp duty for the extension of a one-year student visa was 1,600 roubles.
Risks of overstaying your visa
You can legally stay in Russia as long as your visa is valid (from 3 to 12 months). Just don't forget to apply for an extension 30 or 40 days prior to the expiry date. Staying in Russia with an expired visa means you risk a fine of between 2,000 and 5,000 roubles, deportation and a ban on entering Russia for five years.