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I have a refugee travel document issued in the USA and need to travel to Russia. Can I apply for a Russian visa?

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    Are you a refugee from Russia? If so, you would be placing your refugee status in danger by going to Russia.
    – phoog
    Apr 14 '21 at 19:08
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    No, I have an asylum from another country
    – Paulina
    Apr 15 '21 at 20:05
  • In general then, yes, you can apply for visas for any country other than your country of origin using the US refugee document, but I don't know the specifics of applying for a Russian visa with one, so I will leave it to someone else to answer.
    – phoog
    Apr 16 '21 at 1:01
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    You can always apply. Approval is a different story. Are you from Belarus? To give you an answer, it is important to know your country of origin, and if you have any other travel documents, like a passport?
    – AussieJoe
    Apr 26 '21 at 16:55
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I emailed my local Russian consulate in Houston and the Vice Consul there replied to me that you would need a valid tourist visa on your US Refugee travel document.

Currently (04/28/2021) the Russian consulates in the United States are NOT issuing tourist visas in US travel documents. You may qualify for a different type of visa, as an "emergency situation" due to your refugee status (I do not know your details).

You also may qualify for a Russian tourist visa from your country of origin and can use your old passport to enter with that, if you still have it. If you forfeited your old passport from your home country, you are out of luck.

It is unclear what nationality or country of origin you have, or whether you have a valid passport or any other travel documents that could complicate (or help?) your situation. For instance, if you are from Belarus, and you visit Russia on US refugee travel document, you could be denied re-entry into the USA because the border crossing between Belarus and Russia is minimal, and you could be accused of returning home, and ultimately voiding your refugee travel document.

To re-iterate:

  • Russia will accept your US travel document, as long as you have a Russian visa on it
  • Russia will also accept your native passport, with a Russian travel visa, if you have one
  • Russia is not issuing tourist visas for US travel documents at the moment

You should contact the Russian Embassy in Washington DC with your missing details provided and see if you meet their requirements.

It is very difficult, but not impossible, to contact them because they are overwhelmed with calls and emails. We had to call them repeatedly (hang up, redial, hang up, redial, etc.) for almost two hours before we finally spoke to a Russian speaking person on the line. They are only open for phone calls two hours a day at our local Russian consulate (Houston). They respond to emails within 24-48 hours.

Also, this similar question was asked a few years ago, and is unanswered, yet relevant.

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    "can use your old passport to enter with that, if you still have it": in principle this will cause the refugee to lose refugee status and be deported to the country where his or her life is in danger. It's generally a bad idea.
    – phoog
    Apr 29 '21 at 4:58
  • @phoog Are there any cases where the US has determined that the mere act, by a refugee, of travelling to a third country using a passport from their country of nationality constitutes reavailment? I don't think they're that strict.
    – Brian
    Sep 27 '21 at 18:26
  • @Brian I know of no such cases, which is why I said "in principle." Immigration lawyers fairly universally mention this on their websites, however. I certainly would not want to risk it. I tried searching for some cases, but mostly I found it next to impossible to filter through all the Canadian cases; it seems at least that Canada is rather more active in pursuing such claims than is the US.
    – phoog
    Sep 28 '21 at 9:58

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