By Roy Mabasa
The Philippine embassy in Moscow cautioned on Tuesday Filipinos traveling to Russia to observe the stringent limitations that come with the use of e-Visa (electronic visa) following the deportation and blacklisting of a Filipino family due to overstaying.
In a social media post, Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta narrated that a Middle East-based Filipino family of four traveled to St. Petersburg on December 20, 2019, using an eVisa.
But when the family was about to leave St. Petersburg on Dec. 27, Russian immigration authorities barred them from leaving as their e-Visas had already expired on Dec. 26.
Sorreta said the family agreed to allow the Embassy to share the details of their ordeal to serve as a cautionary tale but asked that their identities and personal details be withheld.
“The parents were ordered deported, blacklisted for five years and fined while we were able to get exit visas for the children,” the envoy said.
The Philippine official added that the family were greatly inconvenienced and had to spend for ticket rebooking and an extended stay in St. Petersburg because government offices were closed during the long holiday.
It was only on Dec. 30 when the family reached out to the Embassy, which in turn, provided them with assistance. Because of the long holidays, offices were closed and the earliest hearing date was set on January 9, 2020.
Accompanied by Philippine honorary consulate representative and a privately hired interpreter, the parents received deportation orders and were asked to pay a fine of 5,000 rubles (P4,120) each.
The family was able to leave Russia only at 11 p.m. on January 11 out of Pulkovo Airport.
An e-Visa is only issued for visits to one of the following three regions of the Russian Federation: the Far-Eastern Federal District, or Kaliningrad Oblast, or St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast. An e-Visa issued for a visit to one of the three above-listed regions is not valid for visits to other regions of the Russian Federation.
Although the issuance of an eVisa is free and without any other requirements except for a valid passport, its validity period of up to 8-days must be strictly observe since the counting of its effectivity may also vary.
“The allowed period of stay in the Russian Federation of up to 8 days under an e-Visa does not imply that one can stay for the entire 192 hours (24 hours multiplied by 8). The day of entry and the day of exit are counted as two days. You can use the visa calculator to determine how long you will be allowed to stay in the Russian Federation,” according to the website of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.