Either way you choose to go about coming here to Russia to work, there are several things you should bring to Russia with you when you come. These documents will come in handy and it is better to have them and not need them, than need them and not have them with you. All documents should not only be notarized by a licensed notary in your hometown, but also have an Apostille placed on it. An Apostille is an international recognized notary seal. In my home state of Georgia, only the Georgia State Superior Court Clerk can place an Apostille seal on a document or copy of a document. An Apostille is a notary seal recognized in other countries. Before a notary here in Russia will notarize a translation of a document, it must have an Apostille, no ifs ands or buts about it. If a translation or document can not be notarized in Russia, then it will not be accepted by the police in charge of visas, and residencies visas. The school you will be teaching for or business you will be working for should advise you on which documents you will need to bring with you.
The first thing you will need is an invitation from a Russian citizen or licensed business here in Russia before a visa will be issued. There are many ways to get an invitation to come to Russia. The school or business you are interested in working for, a friend you might know, the hotel you will stay at, there are even businesses here that will get you a tourist or business visa for a price here. A tourist visa is good for a month and a personal home stay visa is good for three months, a business visa is good for three months on up to a year. I would recommend that you get an invitation from a school or other employer, it will be good for three months on up to a year. But you have to consider your reasons and options before deciding on the way to go.
You may need a notarized letter with an Apostille from your local police department, or sheriff stating that you have never been in prison and have no arrest record. I am not sure if you need this if you accept a formal job with a school or not, they should advise you if you do. You will find it easier if you already have this document with you before you come here to work. I had to get this letter myself when I applied for temporary residence and know it would have been easier if I had it before coming. You can not count on any help from the US embassies US Citizen’s Service as they only make excuses. Funny since they demand that all Russians applying for US visas must provide such letters themselves from the Russian Embassy, but that is another story.
If you are going to stay here in Russia for more than three months, you have to have several medical tests done. I have heard that some teachers had these tests done in the US before they left, but I think it is better to have the tests done here because it saves not only time, but the expense of translation and notarized here in Russia. Plus I believe that the Russian governmental officials prefer, if not require these tests to be done here. You will need an AIDS/HIV, TB, VD and drug tests done.
Next, I know if you apply for temporary residence, you should have a letter from your bank stating the amount of your bank account, to prove that you are able to support yourself until temporary residence is granted. You are not a Russian citizen, therefore you will not be entitled to receive things like free medical care, pensions, food, housing and what not. This is only to prove that you are able to provide for yourself and those with you. I would recommend opening another bank account either here in Russia or in the US and deposit $1000.00 if you are coming here alone, that is good enough to satisfy the governmental officials. Whether or not this is required for those coming to work here under contract with some school or business, I can not say. I do not think it is since you have a job you are coming for, but you should ask the school if you would need this before coming just to make sure.
You should also bring copies of important documents notarized that will come in handy, things such as degrees you have, certificates, military discharge, letters of reference, things that would help you find a job in the US will be just as handy here also. Only notarized copies of important documents such as diplomas, discharges, certificates such as your TEFL/TESL certificate should have an Apostille on them. (Leave important one of a kind papers and documents at home, just bring notarized copies with Apostille stamp on them) Certain documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, degrees and certificates like your TEFL certificate, must be the original, notarized and have an Apostille seal, no copies will be accepted by governmental offices, only the original. I say this because you never know when you may need such documents and it is better to have what you need and not need it than need a document and not have it. Better safe than sorry.
Excerpted from "How To Prepare For Living And Working In Russia" in Escape From America Magazine, Issue 62.