RUSSIA - Government releases e-visa for citizens of 52 countries

What is the immigration news? Russia will launch a program to provide single-entry e-visas to nationals of 52 countries on Jan. 1.

While the change will eventually ease travel to Russia for eligible foreign nationals, it may be of limited immediate benefit to many foreign nationals if current COVID-19 travel restrictions remain in place. Once restrictions are lifted, foreign nationals holding the visa will be able to stay in Russia for up to 16 days when traveling for business, tourism or humanitarian reasons. The e-visa program is an expansion of a pilot program and will be open to nationals of the same 52 countries who are currently eligible for the pilot.
• Implementation: Jan. 1, 2021.
• Visas affected: E-visas for business, tourism or humanitarian visits.
• Who is affected: Eligible foreign nationals traveling to Russia for business, tourism or humanitarian visits.
• Processing: The change will save business travelers time in the visa application process.
Background: The e-visa program is an expansion of a pilot program that was introduced in or Russia’s Far Eastern Federal District in 2017 and expanded to St. Petersburg and the Leningrad and Kaliningrad regions in 2019. Under the pilot program, visa holders could only travel within these specific regions. On Jan. 1, the program will be expanded nationwide, but travelers will be required to enter through specific ports of entry. E-visas will be valid for 60 days from the date of issuance, but the maximum duration of stay in Russia will be 16 days.
BAL Analysis: The e-visa program will ease business, tourist and humanitarian travel for eligible foreign nationals visiting Russia. Travelers should note, however, that travel to Russia remains limited because of COVID-19 and travel from some countries may remain off limits even after the e-visa program is officially implemented. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, and BAL will provide additional updates as information becomes available.

Azevedo Sette Advogados