To reside legally in Russia, international students need to:
- Fill out a Migration Card
- Register with the Migration Service
After this, don't forget to extend your visa and migration documents. The first time this should be done is 3 months after your arrival.
The Migration Card needs to be filled out by all foreign citizens, whether or not they arrive in Russia with a visa. Free forms are distributed on planes, trains, and before passport control at the airport (or railway station).
A Migration Card is a certificate of your legal crossing of the Russian border. Together with your passport, it is an essential document for your stay in Russia. You cannot register with the Migration Service if you don't have this card. When filling out the card, try not to make any errors as you will have to spend a lot of time correcting them later.
How do I fill out a Migration Card?
A Migration Card should be filled out in Russian (or in Latin script if you don't know Russian) legibly, without erasures or corrections.
After that you hand the card over to the border control officer. You'll be given a detachable part of the form which will serve as your Migration Card. Keep it until you leave the Russian Federation.
How long is a Migration Card valid?
A Migration Card is valid for the duration of your stay in Russia. If you leave the country, hand it over at border control and fill out a new form when you return.
Foreign citizens arriving in Russia to study (with or without a visa) must register with the Migration Service within 7 days of their arrival. Your university will handle this process and all you need to do is bring the documents to your university’s international office within 3 days of your arrival. A student’s de-facto address must be designated as the place of registration. If a student lives in a university dormitory, dormitory staff will register them at this address. If a student plans to rent an apartment, they are registered with the authorities of the district where the apartment is located by the apartment owner.
The document package includes: your passport (or identity document), visa (if you need a visa to enter Russia), and a Migration Card. Originals and copies of these documents are required.
Your university will then give you a detachable part of the arrival document with the stamp of the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Interior Ministry of Russia. This is your document of registration with the Migration Service. It gives you the right to remain in the country for the indicated period (first for 3 months, then for 1 year). The document should then be extended at the regional body of the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Interior Ministry of Russia.
How do I extend an arrival document?
Two weeks prior to the expiry of your arrival document, contact the university’s international office to extend it.
If a foreign citizen is traveling around Russia, checking into hotels, leaving and then returning to the country, and if any details are changed, the arrival document has to be issued again through the corresponding university department.
No fee is charged for registering with the Migration Service and extending the term of the arrival document.
Loss of and damage to migration documents
If your Migration Card is lost or damaged, you have to apply to the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Interior Ministry of Russia where you registered, within 3 days. Upon submission of documents (a passport, a visa, a student identity card, a detachable part of the arrival document etc.) you'll be issued a free duplicate.
If you have lost your part of the arrival document, you have to apply to the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Interior Ministry of Russia where you registered and write a declaration. Once the information has been verified, you'll be given a duplicate of this document (usually within 3 days) free of charge.
The international office can help you get lost documents reissued. The most important thing is to get this done within the statutory period – 3 days.
What happens if I breach migration regulations?
Failure to comply with migration requirements is punishable with a fine. For instance, in Moscow and Saint Petersburg this ranges between 5,000 and 7,000 roubles. In certain cases, if a foreign citizen does not have the necessary documents they may be deported from Russia. Two or more administrative violations in 3 years are punishable by a three-year ban on entering the country.