Reinforcement of immigration control: restrictions on invitation letters and visa filings

At the moment Moscow Immigration Department of Internal Affairs Ministry process all invitation letters applications withinthe following timelines (NOTE: the period is counted starting the day which follows the day of filing):

  • 1 entry/2 entry invitation letter – 16-18 calendar days (the term may be increased up to 20 business days);
  • Multiple entry invitation letter – up to 20 business days;
  • HQS work visa invitation letter – 14 business days;

What is more, in case application for the invitation letter is filed on behalf of the company which has not yet filed documents with Moscow Immigration Department or hasn’t filed the invitation letter applications for more than 1 year, CEO/General Manager of such company will be invited for the interview to the immigration authority. Also, interviews are conducted with General Managers of companies which sponsor invitation letters for citizens of so-called high migration risk countries, such as India, Pakistan, China, Iran, Turkey and etc.

At the moment according to the information we possess immigration authority officials raise the following issues at the interview:

  • Company’s field of activity;
  • The reason for the invitation of foreign nationals to the Russian Federation;
  • Whether company keeps an invitation letter registry: it is required to submit such a document;
  • Whether company keeps records of sponsored visas expiration dates;
  • How company communicates with the invited foreign nationals (starting January 2019 inviting party has to exercise full control over foreigner’s stay in the country however the related Government Order is not signed yet);

Additionally visa issuance process has been restricted:

  • Applications for visa extensions are only accepted minimum 20 business days before the current visa expiration date. In case the visa extension filing is not possible within this timeline, foreign citizen has to leave the country before his current visa expiration date, wait for the new invitation letter to be processed. Then the foreign national can apply for the visa anew and only then re-enter the country.
  • Applications for work visa amendments are accepted in the old manner, though corrected visa cannot be received before foreign national has collected the modified work permit. NOTE: In cases when visa amendment is required due to change of passport and the old passport is annulled, foreign national will not be able to exit Russia for about 3-4 weeks.
  • While processing applications for visa extensions and amendments immigration authority officials check the validity of foreign national’s address registration in Russia and the date of entry into Russia. The entry date should match the date reflected on foreigner’s migration card. In cases, when foreign national enters Russia via Russia\Belorussia border relevant tickets as well as company letter have to be filed in support of the visa extension/amendment application.

At this moment there is no information on whether such reinforcement of immigration control measures is temporary or permanent. 

We are closely monitoring the situation and will keep you posted on the future developments.

Best regards,


Migration Law Department