Regarding the requests on returning the paid consular fees for visas to Russia
Regarding the requests on returning the paid consular fees for visas to Russia, which they could not use or which they did not receive in connection with measures taken by the Government of the Russian Federation to temporarily restrict the entry of foreign citizens and stateless persons in order to ensure state security, to protect the population against spreading COVID-19, we would like to give the following explanations.
Making decisions on issuing visas to foreign citizens and stateless persons, as well as entering the Russian Federation, is the exclusive competence of the Russian authorities, regardless of the purpose of the trip and the grounds for issuing these visas (established by Russian national law or international treaties of the Russian Federation).
The provisions of agreements on mutual trips of citizens, including those determining the amount of visa fees, cannot be considered as an international legal obligation of the Russian Federation, guaranteeing citizens of the respective states the unconditional right to receive Russian visas, and if they exist, unhindered entry into the Russian Federation. The collection of the consular fee is provided for in paragraph 1 of Article 36 of the Federal Law dated 05.07.2010 No. 154-FZ “Consular Charter of the Russian Federation”. At the same time, neither the Russian regulatory legal acts, nor international agreements contain provisions on reimbursement of the visa fee.
The current legislation does not provide for a mechanism to “offset” visa issuance fees, which applicants did not use, including for reasons beyond their control, for subsequent payment of visa fees.
Russian visa practice is similar to most countries of the world, according to which the visa fee is qualified as a “fee” for considering the visa application (checking the completeness of the submitted documents and the authenticity of the specified information, interviewing etc.) and making a decision based on its result, but not as a fee just for the service of the technical processing of the visa itself.
The work of the consular post is completed if the visa documents are reviewed and the applicant is informed of the decision to issue a visa or refuse to issue it.