Much of our time has been spent lately trying to negotiate the arcane visa procedures in place in the former Soviet republics in Central Asia. Take a look at this doozy of an application from Kazakhstan. In addition of course, to visit the Mother Russia you need a letter of invitation (LOI) which most places charge at least $25 to issue.
Combine that with the fact that most entry visas are valid only for 90 days from issue means that we’re going to place much faith in the kindness (and English language skills) of consular officials in places like Tashkent and Istanbul if we are to travel to Central Asia in September.
Interestingly, visa application fees for US citizens are quite often more expensive than an equivalent visa for EU citizens and others. It’s going to cost us $131 and a visit to the Uzbek consulate in either New York or Washington to enter Uzbekistan this summer. These pricey restrictions in most cases have been enacted in retribution for the prohibitive fees levied on visitors to the United States from these places.
The Land of the Free is often far from that for foreign visitors.