The Legal Status of Foreigners in Russia: Residency Permits and Long-Term Work Visas
When you travel to Russia on a tourist or a business visa you can stay in Russia not longer than 90 days in every 180-day period (they don't have to be consecutive but may also be), so if you need to settle in Russia for longer, you will need a different type of visa.
Student Russian Visa
The easiest type of visa that lets you settle for a long time is the student visa, which you can get if you enroll into a language school or some educational program. There are plenty of MA and postdoc ones available and also in English. This type of visa is given for 6 months, a year, or longer, and your school takes care of the invitation, you don't need to prove much to get it: only that you're going to study in an accredited school or institution in Russia (that has the license of the Ministry of Education).
Work Permit for Russia
Another type is a work-visa but to get that visa you need a work permit and that means getting a job in Russia, which is only available in startups or big corporations. If you are a freelancer this is not an option and you're better off getting a student one or a private one (with a marriage that is to follow to extend your stay). You can learn more on our work permits for Russia page.
Private Russian Visa
The private visa is given after a personal invitation is issued. It is valid maximum for 90 days then you should apply to extend it and you only have a high chance of extension if you are invited by your family member: a wife, husband, brother, whoever it may be. So this is only an option if you are willing to marry a Russian.
Temporary Residency Permit for Russia - RVP
After you get your long-term visa you can try to apply for a temporary residency permit (РВП - разрешение на временное проживание — RVP). This is a very hard thing to get. There are some programs for highly skilled workers, if you came on a work visa invited by a big Russian startup or tech corporation, but if you are not that you will have to apply to get accepted as part of a quota. Those quotas are very low for every country, which gives rise to the black market that sells those residency permits for a higher price. Lots of immigrants from Central Asian countries get those permits for about $1000-$2000 a piece through some shady agencies, but we would not recommend you to go that route. Instead, try to follow the process step by step according to the law. It may be difficult, but if you are persistent, it may work. You can find out more in the Russian visa section of our website.
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