Will I get deported?
January 8, 2007 10:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm scheduled to fly to Moscow on Saturday for work. No, I don't have a letter of invitation or a visa yet. How stupid would it be to just go on a tourist visa?

Not worth going into how I ended up in this situation. Mistakes were made. Anyway.

Scheduled to be in Moscow 1/14 to 1/19, then a weekend in Berlin for fun, then back to Los Angeles on 1/21. My contact in Russia suggested a tourist visa as a last resort. My company will pay for expedited processing, so I should be able to get one in time.

Is this a terrible idea? Any tips? I'm 28 but look even younger, if it makes a difference, and I could show up looking scruffy.

One complicating factor: I'll need to travel to Moscow at least once more, again for one work week, between now and March 7. I'm concerned that applying for a tourist visa followed by a business visa, or applying for a second tourist visa, would look suspicious.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
What I hear you saying is you are going on vacation to Moscow and Berlin. Have a great trip!
posted by Osmanthus at 10:58 PM on January 8, 2007

This was standard practice when I was working in Russia a year or so ago.

Like Osmanthus says, have a nice holiday.
posted by claudius at 11:10 PM on January 8, 2007

Oh, and if you're turned away at the border (the most likely sanction), then won't your company wear it?
posted by claudius at 11:18 PM on January 8, 2007

To apply for two tourist visas in a row won't look suspicious. The amount of people shuttling in and out to see their Russian lovers is quite large. Although most of them are older than you.
posted by londongeezer at 11:46 PM on January 8, 2007

Don't worry about it; we've put people into Moscow under such circumstances, sometimes back to back weeks with Monday arrivals and Friday departures no less! Blatantly obvious tourism wasn't the true purpose, but nobody raised a fuss.

As others mentioned, you're there for a holiday. Not work. A holiday.
posted by Mutant at 11:53 PM on January 8, 2007

1/14 to 1/19? As in for 5 days? How'd they know or care? That's a pretty standard stay for someone backpacking through..

I think the biggest problem would be getting that invitation..
posted by aeighty at 1:22 AM on January 9, 2007

Will a tourist visa allow you to be paid for the work or are you doing it for cash? Worth noting that in the good old US of A, it won't - I know because I was invited to give a lecture, but could not get my $200 fee because I had a tourist visa. All I got was the taxi fare...
posted by A189Nut at 1:52 AM on January 9, 2007

Will a tourist visa allow you to be paid for the work or are you doing it for cash?

It sounds like anon isn't doing this as a freelancer... they're doing it for their company. So one presumes that there is a business agreement between anon's company and the Russians involved, and that anon won't have any responsibility for collecting fees.
posted by antifuse at 2:14 AM on January 9, 2007

If you are flying next week isn't it going to be cutting it close to get any kind of visa at this point? I get the impression that even an expedited visa to Moscow takes at least a week.
posted by JJ86 at 5:42 AM on January 9, 2007

I can't speak to the work/tourist choice, but I have gone through the process of getting an expedited tourist visa to Russia. I highly recommend Travisa. They have done visa expediting for me on several occasions, without any hitches. Depending on the country, the process can be complex. Travisa seems to have their shit together with good, comprehensive checklists (despite a mildly clunky website design). Someone knowledgable was always availabale on the phone. Once, I was able to arrange pickup at their Manhattan office on my way to the airport(!).

An invitation to Russia is, I believe, fairly easy to get. My fancy hotel (The Grand Hyatt) provided one for me once I had a reservation with them.
posted by bruceo at 6:24 AM on January 9, 2007

The only thing to watch for is if you have to carry any amount of clearly business-related materials. My father once got turned away at the Canadian border because of the standard practice (then? among his cow-orkers? *shrug*) of claiming the purpose was pleasure and the border agent finding a box full of briefing materials in the back seat.

If it's impossible to determine which your purpose is then odds are you'll have no issue. Just remember they can paw though ALL your things.
posted by phearlez at 6:59 AM on January 9, 2007

Go ahead and get a tourist visa, BUT BE ABSOLUTELY SURE TO REGISTER IN MOSCOW ASAP. The Rule is 72 hours after landing, but you'll want to do it sooner if possible. I lived with a less-than-human Austrian pigf*cker who robbed me, (and is doing pretty serious business in Moscow) who operated entirely on tourist visas.

Without registration, you will have all kinds of problems. Register on any visa and you'll be fine. If the police stop you, you'll have to show the reg card and your visa.

As far as getting paid goes, that's no problem. They'll pay cash if there's pay to get. No one will stop them. Not even an issue.
posted by fake at 9:22 AM on January 9, 2007

I've traveled for short term work gigs a lot, and always do it as a tourist. If they press you or find work related stuff in your bags, you are (also) a consultant, getting paid in your home country, by your home country organisation, as a side aspect of your main interest as a tourist. But it has never been an issue for me.

If you are getting paid in cash in Russia, taking money out can be really problematic. The airport security folks are very picky about this, and the limit last time I was there was $200.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:32 AM on January 9, 2007

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