Historic Visa Agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation Enters Into Force September 9

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 7, 2012

An historic U.S. - Russia visa agreement will enter into force on September 9, 2012. The agreement facilitates travel between our countries and enables us to strengthen ties between our people by benefitting the largest segments of travelers in both our countries – business travelers and tourists. Nearly 159,000 business and tourism visas were issued in FY 2011 to Russian citizens. Over 75,000 U.S. citizens travel to Russia annually, the majority of whom require Russian visas.

Among other benefits, the agreement provides for longer visa validity which allows for expanded contacts and promotes greater mutual understanding between our societies.

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov first announced this agreement in July 2011, which was ratified by the Russia Duma and signed by President Putin in July 2012.

The agreement includes these key provisions:

  • Three-year, multiple-entry visas will be issued as the standard “default” visa for U.S. citizens visiting Russia and Russian citizens visiting the United States;
  • Diplomatic and official visa holders on temporary assignments will receive one-year, multiple-entry visas;
  • The agreement streamlines the visa issuance process by reducing the documentation required. For example, the Russian government will no longer require U.S. citizens to provide formal, “registered” invitation letters when applying for Russian business visas or visas for private visits, although applicants seeking Russian tourist visas must continue to hold advance lodging reservations and arrangements with a tour operator;
  • Both sides have committed to keeping standard visa processing times under 15 days, although the circumstances of individual cases may require additional processing; and
  • The $100 issuance – or reciprocity – fee for Russians issued U.S. visas for business or tourism (visa types B1/B2) will decrease to $20.

PRN: 2012/1398