U.S. embassy: Relaxed visa accord brings Russian, American people closer together

The U.S. embassy in Moscow welcomes the signing of an agreement on relaxed visa procedures by President Vladimir Putin.

"The U.S. Embassy in Moscow welcomes President Putin's signing of an historic U.S.-Russia visa agreement on July 30th, 2012," the U.S. embassy said in a press release on Tuesday.

After the agreement is published by an official national newspaper, the Russian and U.S. governments will exchange notes and the agreement will take effect in 30 days.

"This agreement brings our countries and people closer together by allowing qualified tourist and business travelers from the United States and Russia to receive visas with longer validity periods. These travelers are now eligible to receive, on a reciprocal basis, visas valid for multiple entries during a period of 36 months. The agreement will facilitate travel and establish stronger ties between Russia and the United States, as it will benefit the largest segment of travelers in both our countries: business travelers and tourists," the U.S. embassy said.

Thanks to the agreement, three-year, multiple-entry visas for stays of up to six months will become the standard "default" terms for U.S. citizens visiting Russia and Russian citizens visiting the United States, it said.

"For Americans in Russia, the new six-month limit means that they will be permitted to stay in Russia up to six months instead of the previous restriction limiting stays in Russia to 90 days within any given 180-day period." the U.S. embassy said..

The agreement eliminates the formal invitation requirement for U.S. citizens visiting Russia, although applicants seeking Russian tourist visas will continue to require advance lodging reservations and arrangements with a tour operator, it said.

"For Russians, the $100 issuance - or reciprocity - fees will be reduced to $20, and the lower-fee, shorter-validity visa option will no longer be available. The application fee, currently $160, will still apply," the U.S. embassy said.

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