On July 6, 2012, the Russian State Duma approved international agreement #85062-6 “On the Ratification of the Agreement Between the Russian Federation and the United States of America for Simplifying Visa Procedures for Citizens of Russia and US” with 392 votes cast in its favor.
According to the new agreement, the process for issuing Russian business, private, humanitarian and tourist visas will be changed as will the issuance of American B1/B2 (short-term tourist, visitor and business), as well as short-term official trip visas by both sides. The new agreement includes following changes:
- Visas must be issued or denied within 15 calendar days of the receipt of the application; this may be shortened to 3 or less work days in cases of emergency;
- Visas issued will be multi-entry and allow a stays of up to 6 months from each date of entry. These multi-entry visas will be valid for up to 36 months;
- Multi-entry visas for short-term official (diplomatic) visits will allow stays of not more than 3 months from the date of entry and will be valid for up to 12 months.
The agreement will come into force in 30 days after receiving through diplomatic channels of written confirmation of fulfillment of necessary domestic procedures.
The draft bill was submitted for consideration to the State Duma in the beginning of June. It was developed to fulfill the promises made in joint statement of the Russian and US presidents for furthering visa cooperation and issued after the Deauville meeting held on May 26, 2011, and confirmed by an exchange of notes on November 1 and 19, 2011.