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Russia, US agree to simplify visa rules

November 21, 2011, 14:11 UTC+3
The visas for tourists and business people will be issued for no more than six months from date of entry
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On the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Bali Russia and the United States signed an agreement envisaging easier visa rules that allow to issue multiple visas to each country’s citizens for three years. The visas for tourists and business people will be issued for no more than six months from date of entry.

Politicians generously used epithets describing all advantages of this decision, however experts warned that it would take much time before ordinary people could really feel the effect of the simplified rules, Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported. The deal was sealed on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Bali. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exchanged the relevant notes. Under the new rules, business people and tourists will be able to get multiple visas for thirty six months, while state officials - for twelve months. At the same time during each entry a person getting such a visa should stay in the country for no more than six months.

The agreement also reduces the list of documents necessary for getting a visa, Moskovsky Komsomolets wrote. The document envisages that citizens will be able to apply for a visa in consular offices and diplomatic missions on the territory of a third country. The document requires ratification, after this the two parties should once again exchange the notes testifying that all domestic procedures for the agreement to enter into force are completed. It is worth noting that the United States characterized this deal in an extremely positive tone, the daily noted.

Washington describes the agreement as “milestone,” the Kommersant business daily reported. Moscow sees in this deal only a step on its way to achieving the end goal – visa abolition. Meanwhile, the number of U.S. citizens visiting Russia in 2010 exceeded that of Russians travelling to the U.S. Last year 262,000 U.S. citizens visited Russia and around 206,000 Russians – the United States.

Meanwhile, experts interviewed by Rossiyskaya Gazeta warn that it will take time before ordinary people will really feel privileges of the easier visa rules. The daily explained that the Russian legislation does not envision the issuance of three-year multiple visas, therefore the agreement should be ratified by the Federal Assembly.

Parliamentarian from the State Duma, Leonid Kalashnikov, was quoted by the daily as saying that legislators of the current convocation will be unlikely to approve the document before their powers expire in December. Moreover, aside from the process of ratification some bylaws should be adopted, therefore the easier visa rules will become effective “even not at the beginning of 2012.”

Lawyers pay attention to the fact that the wording of the agreement contains hidden reservations. For instance, new visas will be issued “as a rule” and “upon condition that the parties observe the principles of mutuality.” To put it simply, a “convenient” visa may be cancelled with reference to the fact that your country does not issue visas to our citizens, and that’s why we will not issue visas to you “on the basis of the principles of mutuality.”

 

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