INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE ADOPTED FROM RUSSIA AND WISH TO TRAVEL TO RUSSIA; RUSSIAN PASSPORT VS. US PASSPORT (UPDATED 12/14/2016)

 

Generally Russian adoptees need a current Russian Passport to travel to Russia.  They continue to be Russian citizens, even after adoption, even after becoming citizens of their adoptive land.  However, the field of Russian visas, and passport requirements for dual citizens can seem rather difficult, confusing, inconclusive and extensive. Russian officials, embassy websites, and families who have completed homeland visits offer conflicting information. It is strongly recommended that families of Russian adoptees contact the Russian Embassy in Washington DC or the Russian Consulate in your region to discuss your situation. If you are travelling with a group, such as the Ties Program, it is advised that you also discuss your situation with the organization for the most current advice.

 

It is a fact that Russian adoptees remain citizens of their country of birth unless they renounce that citizenship after they reach the age of 18. The process to renounce citizenship is complicated, time consuming, and not well documented – and FRUA INC has not received evidence of any adult who was adopted from Russia having completed the process. The process can take between 6 – 12 months. To renounce Russian citizenship, one must first have a valid (not expired) Russian passport (which can take an additional 2-4 months). The position of the Russian Embassy is that they would prefer that adoptees not renounce their citizenship.

 

The official stance of the Russian government at this time, according to the Embassy of Russian Federation, is that children who were adopted from Russia are required to travel to Russia with a vaild Russian passport unless they have formally renounced their Russian citizenship.

 

"Each Russian child adopted by foreigners retains Russian citizenship until coming of age," says Alexander Lukashevich, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman. "In leaving the country, they are provided with a foreign-travel passport valid for five years. All adopters are familiarized with the Russian law that stipulates that, upon arriving in a different country, the child must be registered with the nearest consular institution and the passport must be extended timely. Then the children will have no problems traveling to their home country," he said.

 

“Sometimes "adoptive parents produce a child's American passport, demanding that a visa be put there, which goes against the Russian law, since a minor still remains to be a Russian citizen," he said.

 

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MINORS TRAVELLING UNDER A RUSSIAN PASSPORT
 

Minors who also have Russian citizenship and are traveling alone or in the company of adults who are not their parents, must carry a Russian passport as well as a Power of Attorney written in Russian and signed by their parents. Authorities will prevent such minors from entering or leaving Russia if they cannot present a Power of Attorney.

 

Alexander Lukashevich, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, says “Russian children adopted by U.S. families never have visa problems when they travel to Russia if their parents follow the existing procedures regulating the issuance of passports and visas. Problems arise only when adoptive parents ignore these rules and do not care about extending a Russian passport or sometimes get rid of it completely."

 

According to the Embassy of the Russian Federation, an adopted child under the age of 18 must be registered at the Consular Division of the Russian Embassy in order to renew their Russian Passports. All Russian minors must have their own passport to travel to Russia

 

The Embassy issues 5-year and 10-year (or biometric) passports. They recommend that minors obtain biometric passports after 6 years of age. Minors are not required to be present to apply for 5-year passport, but must be present to apply for 10-year biometric passport. Parents must complete an application and schedule an appointment with the Consular Division of the Embassy to apply for the passport.

 

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FAMILIES TRAVELLING WITH A GROUP UNDER A US VISA THROUGH A PROCESSING COMPANY

 

Under special circumstances, minor adoptees from Russia travelling with their families with groups that organize homeland tours, cruise ship tours, etc. have used the assistance of select Travel Agencies that specialize in Russian visa processing. The special visas obtained in these situations allow the family to travel on a US visa, including the adoptee. (Ilya Mikhailevich of Unisel Network, New York)

 

Bea Evens, of the Family Ties program, says that these companies are “able to petition the Russian Foreign ministry for permission to secure a visa for a Russian adoptee. The process requires that all family members apply for visas through the Russian Foreign Ministry as opposed to directly with the consulate.”

 

Independently attempting to travel to Russia under a “Family Visa” for non-business reasons is not well documented, and cannot be endorsed by FRUA INC unless further supporting documentation is uncovered. Under this procedure, children up to age 16 may be mentioned in the “family head’s” invitation. Family visas require an invitation called a "Voucher and Confirmation" for the head of the family. The visa support invitation can only be obtained through an authorized agency. The Family Member Visa is intended for close relatives who accompany a foreigner staying in Russia on a long-term business, work or other visa as well as on permanent Residence Permit.

 

Families need to be aware that Russia can refuse entry to any individual assessed as not complying with their laws. NOTE: Several years ago four Russian children adopted by Americans travelling with the Ties Program on American passports were denied Russian visas. There was no explanation and no appeal process. http://www.voanews.com/a/american-families-vis…/1706920.html

 

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ADULTS AGE 18 YEARS AND OVER WHO WERE ADOPTED FROM RUSSIA.

 

Russia requires her citizens, including those holding dual citizenship by default due to having been adopted, to enter Russian on a Russian passport. According to Russian law, it is illegal for a Russian citizen to enter Russia on a visa.

 

U.S.-Russian dual nationals and Russian citizen Legal Permanent residents of the United States must register their dual nationality/foreign residency. Registration forms and further information can be found on the Federal Migration Service website (in Russian only).

 

U.S.-Russian dual nationals must both enter and exit on a Russian passport. You will not be permitted to depart on an expired passport. Applying for a passport can take several months.

 

The United States government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. It expects U.S. citizens to travel on U.S. passports. Possessing and traveling on a Russian passport, outside of the United States, however, does not negate a traveler's U.S. citizenship. U.S. citizens who choose to enter Russia on a Russian passport do face several possible difficulties.

U.S. citizens who have at one time held Russian citizenship are often required to renounce Russian citizenship before applying for a Russian visa in their U.S. passport. Unless a former Russian citizen has formally renounced his or her Russian citizenship through a Russian Embassy or Consulate, he or she always risks being considered a Russian citizen and not allowed to depart on any travel document except a Russian passport. This can also interfere with access to U.S. consular services in case of an emergency. This risk is greatly diminished if the traveler enters Russia on a U.S. passport and Russian visa.

 

Such persons should also be aware that if their Russian passport expires after entry, Russian authorities will not permit them to depart Russia using their U.S. passport. They will be required to obtain a new Russian passport - a process that generally takes several months. Russian external passports extended by Russian Consulates or Embassies overseas are not considered valid for departure from Russia no matter how long the extension. Bearers of such passports will have to apply for a new passport inside the country.

 

According to the School of Russian and Asian Studies “Those who have traveled to Russia before on visas should be aware that this was likely due to bureaucratic oversight. Russian citizenship and migration records are now largely computerized and the consulates have tightened their review process. Anyone who was born in Russia will need to provide proof that they are not Russian citizens. Those with birthplaces within any of the countries of the former Soviet Union will also face scrutiny and will likely need additional documents. Even if you have traveled to Russia before on a visa you will not be able to do so now.”

 

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CONSCRIPTION OF RUSSIAN CITIZENS "LIVING ABROAD" (OR IN OUR CASES, ADULT MALES WHO WERE ADOPTED INTERNATIONALLY FROM RUSSIA)

 

Russian law allows for the conscription of male Russian citizens between the ages of 18 - 27 years old. However, the law excludes Russian citizens who live permanently abroad. You should register with the consulate in your country of residence as a Russian living permanently abroad. It is possible that an individual may be questioned about military service while abroad, but there have been no cases noted of an American-Russian dual citizen ever being forcibly conscripted while abroad in Russia.

 

RUSSIAN PASSPORTS REQUIRED FOR ADOPTED RUSSIAN CHILDREN

 

*Please note that much of this information can become outdated rather quickly.  Please check for current information on the Russian Embssy website.

 

In accordance with the Russian legislation expired Russian passports can not be extended. Once expired a new passport must be obtained. An adopted child must be registered with the Consulate General. To obtain a new Russian passport adopted parents should submit to the Consulate General in person the following documents (you can use the services of adoption agencies or Russian translators):

    • Application Form to Renew a Russian Passport (has to be filled in Russian); The Russian embassy and its consulates require that you appear in person when needing to renew your Russian passport in the U.S. Unfortunately they do not offer the option to post applications. This is to ensure safety of your documents and efficiency in dealing with matters in person. The plus side to this is that you will have someone to assist you should you not understand any part of the process. Let us now look at what is involved in renewing your Russian passport in the U.S. 
    • You must obtain the application form from the Russian Consulate where you will apply. Once you are done you must submit the form to the system and print it to take along to your interview at your chosen consulate. Keep in mind that the Russian embassy and consulate websites are all in the Russian language. If your Russian is not great, use Google Chrome as your browser and it will offer you a translate option.
    • Once you have filled out the passport application form, you must choose a Russian consulate that covers your jurisdiction to book an interview with. There are Russian consulates, including the Russian embassy, in five U.S locations. These are:

       

      • New York
      • San Francisco
      • Seattle
      • Houston
      • Washington – Russian embassy

       

      Each has their own open hours and policies which you should look into in order to make a booking for a time and date that will suit you. Find their details here.

       

       
REQUIRED DOCUMENTS

 

To successfully apply for your renewed Russian passport, you need to take along with you a few supporting documents. Here is a list of what you will need:

 

  • Original valid Russian passport or a copy of the page with the photo on if it is absent
  • Original plus one copy of a U.S resident permit such as green card, work permit or visa
  • 5 photos
  • Completed application form both in hard copy and completed and submitted online
  • Stamped envelope with return address for sending notice that your new passport is ready
  • Application fee of $30 made by money order to the Russian consulate

 

PASSPORT PHOTO REGULATIONS

 

Do not let your photos be the reason that your passport application is denied. It happens often. Below are the photo requirements that should you follow, will leave the passport application process a lot less stressful.

 

  • Photo size: 3.5cm high by 4.5cm wide. Do not crop your photos yourself!
  • Photos may be in color or in black and white
  • Photos must be taken no later than one month prior to passport application
  • Applicant must face forward with eyes open and pointed towards the camera. Do not smile but keep your mouth closed with a natural, neutral expression.

 

Should you require the expedition of your renewed passport you will have to apply well in advance and communicate this clearly to the person assisting you.

 

Other than that, be sure that you take along all that is required and the assistant will do the rest. It may be slightly inconvenient to travel to your nearest consulate but it is worth knowing that your application is being handled professionally.

 

 

RENEWING RUSSIAN PASSPORTS FOR CHILDREN UNDER 14 YEARS OLD 

(from http://www.destinationsdreamsanddogs.com/renewing-your-childs-russian-passport/)

  • Both you and your child generally have to apply in person to your local consulate.  Actually, minors are not required to be present to apply for a 5-year passport, but they must be present to apply for  a 10-year "biometric passport".
  • You can use a Passport Service as an intermediary for an additional fee.
  • Determine under which jurisdiction your state falls and the corresponding Russian Consulate, whether San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, New York, or Washington.  This may be found on the Russian Embassy website.  
  • One parent must fill out the application form
    • These forms also usually need to be filled out in Russian
    • Have your child’s Adoption Decree
    • Any former names of your child
    • Date and location when the names were changed. 
    • Your son’s or daughter’s original Russian Passport number and place of issuance
    • Birth Certificate and its details. 
    • They will ask where the child attends school
    • They will ask where the applying parent works.
  • After filling out the online application form in Russian, if doing it online, you will “Accept” their terms and “Submit”.  This will issue you an Application Number, and you may then “Download” your completed form, giving you the ability to print it.
  • Next, e-mail the Embassy or Consulate and request an appointment to come in with your child and apply for the new Russian Passport.  Keep in mind that for some locales, you may have to telephone multiple times.  The appointment can be scheduled via Electronic line system or by phone (202) 939-8912 (Mon-Fri - 9-00 -11-00AM, 2-00 - 4-00PM)
  • Depending on what number you call, you may need to speak Russian.
  • Following the e-mail request for an appointment, hopefully the Embassy will call you, or e-mail you back to instruct you to call back.  They will summon you for an appointment.
  • Bring along with you: 
    • Money Order made payable to the “Russian Embassy” (or whatever your location specifies) - check the website for the current fee
    • Have an original of the Russian Birth Certificate (issued after adoption) and one copy; or a copy which has been notarized by a Russian Notary.
    • Adoption Decree and one copy.
    • Child’s previous Russian Passport or a Police report if the passport is missing
    • Copy of the applying parent’s U.S. Passport 
    • Copy of the child’s U.S. Passport
    • Parent's US Passport
    • 4 passport-sized photos of the child
    • 2 passport-sized photos of the applying parent
    • Your downloaded and printed Application Form.
  • The 5-year Russian Passport may be sent to you via a prepaid mailer (which you provide)
  • 10-year Russian Passport ("Biometric Passport") must be picked up in person.  It is recommended that minors obtain biometric passports after 6-years of age.

 

Whether on your own, with a Russian friend or relative to translate forms, or through a Passport facilitator, you can do this. 

 

Not renewing the Russian Passport does not jeopardize your child’s Russian citizenship, however, it may be beneficial to keep the Passport current depending on your family’s needs and goals.  Except under a few special circumstances, all Russian minors (including Russian adoptees who have US Citizenship also) must have their own passpost to travel to Russia (see article below)

 

Check with your nearest Russian Embassy or Consulate for updated information, and to ensure that the above information is reliable and current.

 

If a minor travels alone to Russia, he/she needs parents' notarized consent for the trip (please contact notary section of the Consular Division).

 

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