You can start applying for a student visa up to 45 days before you plan to travel to Russia. The documentation that you submit along with your Russian student visa application form varies. Generally, you need the following:
- An application form, which can be completed online but must be printed out.
- A passport or ID, valid for at least 18 months from the issue date of your visa and with at least two blank pages, plus a photocopy of the front page.
- One recent passport-sized photograph.
- Your official letter of invitation from the GUVM (original, not a copy).
- Medical certificate less than three months old showing that you test negative for HIV. You may need to present the certificate in both Russian and your own language along with passport details, information on the duration of the stay in Russia, and details of the HIV test.
- If you are under 18 years old, you must also have a consent document signed by your parents or legal guardians which has also been certified by a notary.
All foreign visitors to Russia must register at the local GUVM branch within seven days of arrival. If you are studying in Russia, your university usually does this for you. Failure to register with the GUVM can result in a fine and in some cases expulsion from Russia. A list of local GUVM offices is available here.
Your initial Russian student visa will generally be valid for 90 days. After arriving in Russia, you must arrange a Russian student visa extension through the GUVM to cover the duration of your studies, up to a maximum of three years.