My girlfriend’s cousin living in Moscow went visit me and my girlfriend about a year ago. Since then, she has been to Germany quite frequently since she fell in love with my best friend. Each time for a few weeks.
You have to write an informal invitation and add a confirmation on tenancy agreement to prove she can stay at your place. That’s enough for her to get a visa. It costs around 150€ and was never denied. I don’t get the fuzz here. And she is poor as it can get (no need to warn about scams, I know her for years).
Getting a EU (Schengen) visa in Russia is really simple. You just need about 12,000 RUB (€150) and go to the nearest travel agency, they will do everything for you: will fill out for you all forms, provide you all required documents and set up for you an appointment at a consulate. You will have a visa in less than a week.
Millions of Russians get Schengen visas every year. While the official rules may sound a bit strict (like €3500 requirement you mentioned), in reality visas are given to anyone and Schengen visa denials for Russians are virtually unheard of.
Source: I live in Russia and for the last 10 years I always had a Schengen visa. Half a year ago I got my last Schengen visa in just 2 days.
I was in a similar situation once and this is what worked quite well in my case. I am a citizen of a North American country, have relatives in Russia, and we were planning a 10 day long trip to Iceland, where I didn’t need a visa but my Russian folk did.
Once I had arranged accommodation and transport within Iceland for all of us (I was paying for everything except their air transportation), I sent a fax to the Icelandic embassy in Russia (and a copy to my family to present with the visa application) and explained the arrangement, including my coverage of their in-country expenses and copies of the itinerary and hotel and B&B booking confirmations. My family were issued their visas within few days without any trouble.
If you do something like this, I think you should avoid mentioning your plans to apply for Portuguese citizenship though, as it might give the consular officer wrong impression about your actual intents — you’re just planning a short vacation together, right?
I also have another option that wasn’t mentioned yet.
If your girlfriend is not employed and thinks it might hurt her chances, you can have someone from her family (parents?) on steady employment write her a letter that they plan to provide for her financially. That’s a pretty common type of document,
Note that Internets state some Schengen states now explicitly avoid working with
2НДФЛ (that’s proof of steady salary by employment) and instead ask copy of your card and ATM check with balance. This means they don’t care about funds parking at all.
As a side note, I don’t think most Schengen states are afraid that she’s going to immigrate illegally. I don’t think Russians do that in any visible numbers. They might be afraid she will downshift rapidly or get stuck while low on funds.
If your girlfriend wants to travel to Portugal as a tourist, she must convince the visa officials that she is a tourist and not an immigrant.
This last point is probably where the other applicants from Yaroslavl fail. They cannot convince the visa officials that they have the money for the trip to spare, so they are suspected of planning to overstay and work.
As soon as you are a Portugese citizen the rules change even if you are not married, provided you are in a well-documented, stable relationship.
Don’t try any tricks like fake employment. The visa officials are at least as clever as those travel agents, and being caught in a lie will really hurt her chances.
Millions of Russian citizens travel to EU every year for recreational purposes. Most of those aren’t oligarchs. I would expect she needs plane tickets, hotel booking, and a modest sum of money in a personal account. This assuming a short trip.
Portugal embassy as I expect would be essentially rubber-stamping anything that comes their way with valid tickets to Portugal, since it’s reliant on tourism and not much else.
There were times when even a valid application could be turned down, but these days I won’t expect any difficulties. Any problems thus tend to be imaginary. (as in “imaginary girlfriend”)
UPD: She would also need insurance. It’s ~10€ per day.
She needs like $3,500 in her bank account and some proof of Russian employment to even be considered. And even then, they may just stamp her passport as blacklisted for 5 years just for even TRYING.
This sounds exaggerated at best, simply false at worst. Where did you get this information?
What’s the very best country / embassy to apply? The best route?
Because her main destination will be Portugal, she must apply to Portugal. Portugal has outsourced its visa processing to VFS Global. See http://www.vfsglobal.com/Portugal/Russia/.
As an aside, there’s no such thing as an “EU” visa. She needs a Schengen visa. There are some non-EU members of Schengen, and there are some EU members that are outside Schengen.
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