If you want to be precise, there are 11 different Russian visa types: (1) Diplomatic visa, (2) Guest/Private Visit visa, (3) Tourism visa, (4) Work visa, (5) Business/Commercial Visit visa, (6) Student/Education visa, (7) Government Business visa, (8) Humanitarian visa, (9) Transit visa (valid up to 72 hours), (10) Temporary Stay visa, and (11) Refugee visa. Each visa type corresponds to the stated purpose of your visit.
Fortunately enough, more than 75% of all issued visas, fall under two major visa categories:
Officially, business visas are intended for business travelers, who travel to conduct business transactions (e.g. negotiations, contracts, exhibitions, etc.). But again, it is merely exception than a rule – you do not need to travel on an official company’s business since the same qualified travel agencies can arrange visa invitation. You do not need to plan a hotel reservations or your itinerary, either. Please be aware that business visa does not imply an employment permit. You need to seek Work visa for employment purposes.
Normally, you should apply for a visa at a Russian consulate at the country you reside. If you’re currently traveling in a foreign country, you can apply at Russian consulate in that country in most cases. You need to submit to a Russian consulate various documents, depending on the time and type of visa you want:
As you see, it is possible to arrange your own Russian visa. In practice, however, most travelers choose to hire a professional visa travel agency to do the groundwork. For an extra $30-$70, agencies will prepare, proofread, and submit your paperwork to a consulate on your behalf and mail your passport along with Russian visa back. Some firms even take care of registering the visa when you arrive in Russia. Given that each Russian consulate has different tastes and temperaments in interpreting visa processing requirements, it’s usually worth to have somebody who knows the ropes of dealing with bureaucrats.
The only problem with hiring somebody to handle your visa is figuring out who to hire. Amid hundreds of honest agencies there are plenty scammers who seem to vanish as soon as you give them your personal information. Yet, that shouldn’t stop you from seeking a professional visa agency, just use healthy dose of precautions.