Monday, October 15, 2012

How I left for 10 days and stayed a month

It has been quite a week!

Last Tuesday, we learned (at the end of the business day) that David was approved for a 30-day tourist visa instead of a 3-year. Slight difference there! The woman at the visa agency had not done a good job of checking our documents, and we had thought we were one week into a 15-day processing time, only to find out that we were ineligible.

We spent all day Wednesday making phone calls and discussing various options. Going back and forth between the visa agency and the Embassy who keep giving us different answers. We are staying 2.5 hours away in another city, and the Russian Embassy is only open from 9-10 a.m....

Pick-up slip #2
On Thursday Andrei and David and I set out at 5 a.m. to catch a 6:00 bus to Tallinn. We brought with us a new invitation, for a guest visa. First we had to go to the visa agency and cancel David's tourist visa in person in order to get his passport back to start a new visa application. We didn't get any money back for the 30-day tourist visa we hadn't wanted in the first place (although, prior to the new visa rules that would have been the only option for a 3-month old).

The visa agency put in an inquiry to the Consulate and we waited all day (from about 10am-5pm) for an answer. Turned out the Consul was on vacation and no one wanted to make decisions without him!

We decided to spend the night in Tallinn, so we phoned some friends who helped us find accommodations (might I add, we don't drive...this was mainly on foot or public transportation).

Friday: This time we went straight to the Consulate, where they tried to redirect us to the visa agency again, NO THANK YOU! Andrei explained everything and got them to look at our invitation, which was almost perfect. decisions without the Consul. Wait until Monday.

Monday: David has now been approved for a 3-year homestay, so he'll be able to come and go during that three-year period, with no stay on Russian territory exceeding 6 months.

Of course I am disappointed once again by Russian bureaucracy and its inability to provide the right information in a timely manner! It was truly a wild goose-chase. We started out 2 weeks ago at the Consulate, where they sent us to the visa agency...and here we are, having applied for and paid for two visas, and hoping the second one will truly work out...once it is ready after another 11 days.

The homestay visa is more appropriate for David anyway, though we could have added some more touristy activities to his schedule. ;)

Might I add: we will likely get David's visa on the exact day that Andrei's Estonian visa runs out. Believe me, we didn't plan for things to happen this way!


  1. This just seems so crazy. Can you understand (and explain) the reason they make it so difficult? Surely they'd WANT your family to make your lives in Russia, and yet the impression is that you'd be better off leaving for good.... Makes no sense to me.

  2. Sometimes you can chalk it up to incompetency, short-staffing, etc. A new law was passed recently and the Consulates hadn't yet decided how they were going to implement it. So we had to sort of be the guinea pigs and show them how their own law should work.

    I do often feel like the laws are ridiculous. But the fact is that Russia attracts a huge number of immigrants. They don't have the infrastructure to support these numbers. And for the ones from the former USSR, life in Russia IS actually an improvement! That is humbling. As I've mentioned before, I wish I weren't quite lumped in the same category, as our country and our individual situation is so different. But this is the way it is, for now.


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