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Do I need to visit the Russian Embassy to have my visa issued?
Although it is the Russian Embassy which checks over and issues your visa, you do not visit the Embassy directly to apply in the majority of cases. You will attend the Russian Visa Processing Centre (VPC) to lodge your application with the required supporting documents. These will then be transferred to the Embassy where the necessary checks will take place.
There are some occasions that you may be requested to attend the Embassy for an interview, but you will be advised of this after you have made the initial application.
Where are the visa centres for Russia located?
Unlike other VPCs you are not required to make an appointment before attending, so once you are ready to apply you can simply turn up to your nearest centre. There are three of these centres in the UK, including:
Although you can attend any of these centres and submit your documents and biometrics, please be aware that none of the centres issue the visas on site.
If you would prefer to submit your biometrics in person and have the completed visa posted back to you, this is possible by requesting this service upon submission. There will be an additional fee to pay to cover the cost of the secure postage back to your nominated address.
You can nominate another individual to collect the visa for you, as long as you give them your collection receipt, a letter of authorisation from yourself and photo ID to produce upon collection.
What do I need to do once I’ve reached the Russian Visa Processing Centre?
Once you arrive at the visa centre, you will be issued a token. Once your token is called, you will go to the counter, where the officer will check your documents, process your application if it is complete, and issue you with a receipt. Keep this receipt safe as you will need to present this in order to collect your documents once they have been processed.
While you are at the appointment, your biometrics will be taken. This means that they will take a digital scan of your fingerprints. The only exception to this policy is if the applicants is under 12 years of age.
The Russian Visa Centre will look through your application and let you know if there are any additional documents you need or if something is missing from the application form. They will give you the opportunity to bring the other documents in and there are computers at the centres that will allow you to make adjustments to the form.
As stated previously, the role of the Russian Visa Centres is to take your visa application and send it to the Russian Embassy. So, even though the centre can advise if the application requires more information, they do not make the final decision to grant the visa or not. Therefore acceptance at the VPC does not guarantee issuance of the visa.
How long does it take to process Russian Visas for UK Citizens?
The standard processing time is 20 days from the date of your appointment. There is an urgent service which can be requested for an additional fee, which is turned around in 3 business days if submitting in London or Edinburgh, or 5-7 days from the Manchester centre.
Once the visa application has been submitted, you will be able to track your application on the visa centre website. You may receive emails that you need to present more documents and given an opportunity to provide these documents before the decision is made. If the visa is denied, you may not be told until you collect your documents. In the event that your visa is denied, you will not be issued a refund.
Most people must attend the Russian Visa Centre in person in order to have their application accepted and give biometric data. Ensure you have all of your documentation with you when you attend and that everything is completed correctly to avoid any delays or rejections on the day. Remember that your application is only accepted at the Visa Centre and passed on to the Russian embassy for processing. Therefore acceptance on the day will not guarantee that your visa will be issued, so be prepared for all eventualities.