We are back in Russia with new visas for the kids. As usual we met obstacles along the way.
Children's passports expire every 5 years, but you can't travel within 6 months of expiry. So 4.5 years maximum. Meanwhile, Americans can get a Russian visa for 3 years maximum. So it's a constant brainteaser trying to make things match up!
David and Sophia are 3 years into their passports, yet we applied for 3-year visas again as that was the best option for us with two years left on the passports. We were in touch with a visa agency and requested that they issue the visa for the maximum possible time period, within the terms of the passport. Visas cannot be transferred into a new passport.
It all seemed pretty clear and I worked hard to complete the visa application before arriving in the U.S., so we could submit it to the Russian Consulate as soon as possible and enjoy our summer break! A significant goal here was to submit early so we wouldn't have to pay for expedited processing, one of the few occasions this would be possible.
Within a week, we were hearing from the visa agency that we had a problem. The kids' visas were expiring in September since we arrived in Russia on those dates last time due to Sophia's birth. But we normally need to arrive in August due to the school year beginning. Turns out, the Russian Consulate will not accept applications more than a month BEFORE the old one expiring. So, we had to hit that window of submitting a month before for processing time, yet not more than a month before to be accepted. Since we were early, they had to put our application on hold.