Russian senate committee recommends ratification of liberal visa agreement with U.S.

The Federation Council Committee on International Affairs has recommended the upper house to ratify the U.S.-Russian agreement liberalizing visa formalities for both countries' citizens.

The agreement allows a continuous stay in the host country for up to six months, and limits visa application processing time to 15 calendar days, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

"It also allows multiple entry visas to be issued for up to one year for brief official trips and to stay in the host country continuously for up to three months from the date of each entry," Ryabkov said.

The agreement must be ratified because it contains other rules than those provided by the Russian laws, in particular, the law on entry to Russia and the law on the legal status of foreign nationals, he said.

"The agreement was considered and approved at a State Duma plenary session on July 6. The agreement is seen by Russia as an important and first step in the introduction of the visa-free regime, the implementation of the agreementwill not require additional spending from the federal budget," Ryabkov said.

In the U.S., such an agreement does not require ratification and will take effect once Russia has completed the necessary procedures, he said.

The matter is due to be considered by the Federation Council at a final meeting of the spring session on Wednesday, July 18.

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