Passport Requirements – Very Important!
In order to be able to obtain a Russian student visa through St. Petersburg State University, your passport should meet the following requirements:
- Your passport must be valid through December 2016.
- Your passport must be in good physical condition (passports with torn pages or fraying edges may be rejected by the Russian Consulate).
- Your passport should have two blank visa pages (one visa takes the entire page).
- Your passort must be signed.
You should e–mail a scanned copy of the first page of your signed passport (the one that meets the above requirement) to Megan Carney at email@example.com by February 23, Monday.
New HIV Test Requirement for All Student Visas:
Before you apply for a student visa to Russia, you need to take an HIV Test. You need to do this in April, that is, within three months prior to the first day of your student visa; then, you mail the results along with your visa aplication, passport, and photographs to Marina at Cinderella Travel:
Cinderella Travel Co
97-11 64th Road
Rego Park, NY 11374
Please, contact Marina with all of your subsequent visa related questions at
Tel.:(718) 275-8434; Fax: (718) 275-8834; or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visas and Visa Registration / Визы и регистрация виз
When we receive an electronic copy of the first page of your valid passport, we will forward it to St. Petersburg State University for processing a “Student Invitation” for you. Student Invitation is an official document issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia on your behalf upon a petition by the university. It takes at least 1.5 - 2 months to issue this Invitation and it is impossible to circumvent or expedite this stage of the process. No exceptions!
By the time your Invitation arrives, you will need to submit to Marina at Cinderella Travel (see above) the following four items required for a Russian Visa in addition to your Invitation:
1) your valid physical passport because the visa will be pasted inside your passport; it has to be exactly the one (the same number) we used for procuring the Invitation for you;
2) one filled–out and signed application form (which will be e-mailed to you in March);
3) two passport size photograph;
4) your HIV Test result;
5) a check or money order to Cinderella Travel.
In 2014, the visa fee for 14 processing business days was $220.00 (+a prepaid FedEx envelope to send documents back to you; you can share the mailing cost if you group up with other students). Expediting services are significantly more expensive, so please plan accordingly and follow the deadlines.
You have to submit your documents to Marina at Cinderella Travel by May 1.
Instructions for Buying Air Tickets to St. Petersburg
Students are responsible for purchasing their air tickets to St. Petersburg. These are the guidelines for buying them.
There are no direct flights to St. Petersburg. You can choose any flight to St. Petersburg provided that it meets these conditions:
1. You should leave the US on June 19 (Friday) and arrive in St. Petersburg, Russia, (Pulkovo 2) on June 20 (Saturday) between 9:00 am and 9:00 pm. You cannot arrive either on an earlier date (because you cannot miss class) or a later date (because you cannot miss the orientation session and the tour of the city the following Sunday)! Our staff will meet you at the airport and take you to your host family only on June 20.
2. You definitely shouldn’t fly to Moscow and then travel to St. Petersburg by train.
3. The most convenient flight probably is Finnair (don’t be concerned about a short layover time – the airport in Helsinki is small and very convenient). Airflot, Lufthansa, BA, KLM, Air France, Alitalia, and others are also good. However, we advise you against LOT because it has had numerous cancellations and delays in the past.
5. Your return date is up to you but it shouldn’t be earlier than July 28, Tuesday, 2015, since July 27, Monday, is the last day of the program.
6.*** Your Russian Visa will be good through mid-September, but it will be a one-entry visa. This means that, when you leave Russia, your visa is automatically canceled and you’d need a new visa to go back. Plan accordingly! Also remember that Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and other former Soviet republics are sovereign countries now and if you’re planning to go there you would need to make special visa arrangements.
Arriving in Russia
Upon your arrival in Russia, you’ll have to pass through passport control and customs. At the passport control desk, you’ll be asked to present your passport and visa.
The flight attendants should give you copies of this form to fill out as you approach the Petersburg International airport, Pulkovo II. If for any reason they don’t, make sure you get this form on the ground and fill it out before attempting to go through passport control. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to have this form in order! The passport control officer will give you back the bottom (“departure”) portion of this form, which you should be sure to keep with your passport and visa. Don’t lose it and don’t throw it away! Our hosts at the state university will need to register your visas with the police soon after your arrival. To do this, they’ll need to take your passport, visa, and migration card. If our experience in past years is a guide, you won’t get them back until the middle of your stay in Russia. During that time, in lieu of passport you will carry a certificate from the university (with a photocopy of your passport), stating that your passport is at the registration office, along with a Russian student ID, which the state university will issue to you.
In addition, we ask you to have at least two photocopies of your passport and take them with you, just in case. Also, please get an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) and bring it with you to Russia since your US university ID is not recognized there. The cost of ISIC is $22 and you can easily obtain it either online or, if you’re in New Haven, CT, at
Universal Travels: 928 Chapel Street CTS Travel USA - Suite 201, 6510 New Haven, CT
Public transportation / Общественный транспорт
Our staff will be meet you at the Petersburg International Airport (Pulkovo–2) and take you directly to your host families. When your five weeks in Petersburg are over, we’ll take you back to the airport as well. We will provide you with a public transportation pass, good for free rides on the subway (метро) and on the trams, buses, and trolleybuses (трамваи, автобусы, троллейбусы). Private buses and minivans (маршрутки) are an alternative way to get around the city. They are often faster than the public buses and trams (though not necessarily safer) and less crowded, but you’ll have to pay anywhere between 15 and 25 rubles to ride them. Unlike public transport, they usually will stop anywhere along the route at your request.
The most pleasant way to get around Petersburg, especially during the magnificent White Nights, is on foot, so bring good walking shoes. More than one pair!