A Decree from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation № 12077 dated July 17, 2012 (and registered by the Russian Ministry of Justice on September 24, 2012) has established regulations on the procedure for issuing invitations for entry into Russia to foreign citizens and stateless persons and new procedures for making decisions on the issuance of visas - "The Regulations".
The Regulations state that the Consular Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the only body authorized to issue invitations and decide on visa issuance (previously representatives of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had such authority in certain cases and decisions to issue visas were made by the heads of diplomatic missions of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
An invitation to enter Russia can be electronic or on paper.
The Regulations amended the list of documents required for invitation application and visa issuance. The invited foreign citizen or a stateless person's passport - identification document - (a copy is sent to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) must not expire earlier than 6 months from the expiration date of the visa. The visa fee receipt is excluded from the required documents. Therefore to obtain an invitation, as well as a decision to issue a visa the applicant must submit to the Consular Department of the Ministry the following documents on paper or in electronic form:
- an application letter written in Russian;
- a copy of the invited foreign citizen or stateless person's identification document which is valid for a least six months beyond the period of the intended stay;
- a letter from the inviting organization which confirms that they are willing to take all the responsibility for the welfare, health and accommodation of the invited foreign citizen or stateless person during his stay in the Russian Federation.
Procedure for issuing an invitation and visa includes the following stages:
- acceptance and registration of documents and compilation of a file;
- technical execution;
- issuing an invitation or visa decision;
- issuing a rejection notice.
An application is accepted, registered and considered only if the applicant provides a complete set of required documents to the appropriate official at the Consular department of the Ministry.
A decision to grant visa to the invited foreign citizen or stateless person must be made not more than 16 days (previously 20 days) from the date of application.
The Regulations also provide a list of reasons that documents can be refused and invitations or visas not issued. These reasons include:
- use of false documents by applicants or knowingly providing fraudulent information about themselves or the purpose of their stay in the Russian Federation;
- unexpunged or unspent conviction for premeditated crimes in Russia or abroad in accordance with the federal law;
- repeated administrative offenses in the territory of the Russian Federation in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation, except in cases where the federal law prohibits a foreign citizen or stateless person to enter the Russian Federation after a single administrative offense in the territory of the Russian Federation;
- tax evasion or administrative penalty or refund of the cost of administrative expulsion from the Russian Federation or deportation - before full payment was made - during their previous stay in the Russian Federation;
- if a foreign citizen and stateless person's previous stay in the Russian Federation is due to their transfer from a foreign country to the Russian Federation in accordance with the international agreement of the Russian Federation on readmission - within a period of five years from the date of transfer in accordance with that agreement.
Also invitations and visas are not issued if:
- this is necessary in order to ensure the security of the country or public order or to protect public health;
- during a previous stay in the Russian Federation the foreign citizen or stateless person was subject to administrative expulsion from the Russian Federation, was deported or sent from the Russian Federation to another country in accordance with the international agreement of the Russian Federation on readmission - within a period of five years from the date of the administrative expulsion outside the Russian Federation, deportation or transfer to a foreign country in accordance with the international agreement of the Russian Federation on readmission;
- a foreign citizen or stateless person has an unexpunged conviction for a serious crime or felony in accordance with the federal law in the Russian Federation or abroad;
- there is a decision made stating that the invited foreign citizen or stateless person's stay in the Russian Federation is unwelcome.
A rejection notice must be sent within 10 days from the date of application and submission of all necessary documents.