At the moment individual persons apply for visas through authorized agencies paying 600-1500 rubles (around 20-50 USD). However, starting from May 2nd VFS Company in co-operation with Russian company Interlink will bear responsibility for the visa issuing process charging 900 rubles (around 30USD) for their services – consulate fee is not included.
The new rules adopted by the Embassy will primarily affect tourists, who will have to pay the agent fee. Svetlana Kostusik, the Head of Visa Department of BSI Group commented on the situation as follows: ‘at present a student visa costs 4420 rubles. Given the new fee it will cost 5520 rubles’. Nevertheless, experts doubt the new rules will considerably affect the flow of students to Britain as initially British education is expensive and the visa cost is high – 50 pounds. Therefore, Russian tour operators are not concerned about the changes and even point out the advantages of the new system: ‘as a rule, British initiatives are reasonable. Among the pluses of the new system I could emphasize the opening of several offices and prolonged working hours’, said Vladimir Ermakov.
Meanwhile, the information regarding the number and location of new offices and the visa issuing period will be most probably announced next week as offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg are scheduled to be opened on April 28th on May 4th correspondingly. Moreover, the offices are planned to appear in Rostov-na-Dony, Voronezh, Samara, Nizhnyi Novgorod, Ufa, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk and Vladivostok.
Furthermore, on April 11th it was announced about new rules for visa applications adopted by the Italian Embassy: now applicants’ presence in the Embassy is compulsory. Thus, Tatiana Bozhko, Press Attaché of the Italian Tourism Office in Moscow, said in the interview to a BANKO correspondent: ‘this rule was adopted by the Italian Embassy a week ago. However, it refers only to those applicants who have invitations from Italy’.