Oh, the joys of applying for a visa to foreign countries. I am in the process of trying to apply for a visa to Belarus and for Russia for our trip to see
our friends and my wife’s family for 3 weeks.
The biggest pain in the ass for this process is obtaining the invitation and that was an extreme source of frustration and stress the last time (2002) I was in Europe. Last time, however I was trying to get a visa to Belarus from the consulate in Prague, Czech Republic with great time constraints.
I will try to log my time and experiences (past and present) of trying to get a visa for Belarus and Russia for those of you who are curious or who might need to go through the process.
The hardest part of the Visa process is obtaining the Invitation. Without an Invitation you cannot get a Visa, and without the Visa there is no entry into the country. An Invitation is a letter written by someone (ie family friends, or someone else) that can be obtained or generated from their local passport and visa office of the Ministry of Interior (Belarus). An Invitation can also be obtained from an organisation that you will work for or is sponsoring your trip there (ie travel agency). The Invitation must state your intent to travel, why you are traveling there, and expected dates for your stay. The consulate will most likely require the original invitation, however sometimes, as was in my first experience, they may accept a copy of the Invitation.
The rest of the Story
After that the rest of the process is just filing out a (2 page) form and paying some money. Once you get to this stage you are basically golden. Fill out the form, send the money and then wait. I have heard that you might be able to fly there (to Belarus) and get a visa there at the airport. A friend of mine who is married to a Belarussian and was going there to meet up with her was able to do this, but I would not count on this. This is possible as long as someone will meet you at the airport with a valid invitation. I would hate to be stuck in an airport and not be able to go anywhere. =(
What is Happening Now
I was not able to get through to the consulate in Washington D.C.. I was however able to get through to the consulate in New York and they referred me to Eastern Tours to obtain an invitation. Eastern Tours said that they can take care of the invitation and visa which will be $145 and 10 days. I may have to expedite this so I do not have to to worry. It looks like they can do both Belarus and Russia. Yea! So tomorrow I will try to fill out the forms and send it to them!
Department of State Information
The Department of State lists no travel warnings for Belarus and here is their Consular Information and listing of Foreign Entry Requirements for Belarus. I will also want to Register our Trip with them as well!
- Fee of about $100
- Visa Application Form
- Passport Photo
- Self Addressed and Stamped Envelope
- Letter of Invitation
- Purchase of Insurance when I get there
General Information on Belarus
Belarussian consulate in Washington D.C.
1619 New Hampshire Avenue., N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
Phones & Fax
Main Telephone: (202) 986-1604
Fax: (202) 986-1805
Consular Section: (202) 986-1606
Belarussian consulate in New York
708 3rd Ave.
New York, NY 10017