How to prepare your First Meeting with your Russian woman
Single young Russian women will never get a (tourist) visa to visit you in the US and Canada and most western countries. Therefore, you must meet her first, preferable in her country.
When you both decide to meet each other, be sure that this will be the most impressive (and hopefully the most romantic) moment in your and her life during developing your new relationship. Your first meeting must have one goal: impress her and show her that you are the 'right man' for her. Don't be afraid to do this alone, if there is a 'click' she will try to do the same.
Please read the topics below:
It will be difficult, and for some countries impossible, to let her come to your country first
There is one item I must stress; Single young Russian women will never get a visa for at least the US and Canada, just to visit you as your girlfriend! No matter what other people say, or so-called magic tourist agencies in Russia, it is not possible. And if you are not convinced, contact the US Embassy (in her country) and they will tell you the same. Some Russian women say they can have their first meeting with you in the US, just forget it, they are scams, or they get scammed by local doubtful travel agencies who tell them the opposite. Read my article: Magic Visa's.
There are only a few exceptions on this visa-rule, but in general they will not count for your girlfriend. For the US Embassy, every young looking single Russian women is a potential suspect who has the intention to never leave the US again.
Important information for US men:
Because of the new USA marriage broker law it is extremely important that both of you keep all the evidence that you have been in Russia and have met your future Fiancée. Keep tickets, and bills (including theatre and restaurant bills, just anything). Make photo's from each other. Just keep everything that can proof that you both have a relationship. She and you has to show this evidence during the request (and interviews) for a K1 Fiancée visa.
Remember that it is difficult for Russian women to travel to a western country. Not only for financial reasons but for practical (visa) reasons too. For most single Russian women it is too expensive to buy an Airline ticket including other costs that come with such an arrangement.
Traveling to the US or Canada (and other western countries) on a tourist or private visa is almost impossible, she better won't even try it because you or she could get involved in some visa scam. Traveling on a tourist or private visa to some West-European countries (like Holland, Belgium, Germany) can be possible. But you both have to arrange a lot and need to start a complex procedure that can take a longtime before she can get approval to enter your country. Therefore I will not discuss this further in this chapter.
As an alternative, you can suggest to meet each other in a for her visa-friendly country, like Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus, Israel or other East European countries. Or she can book an arranged package vacation to -for example- Spain and meet each other there. But she will probably not have enough money to pay for all this.
Still my strong advice is (based on many personal experiences), that your first meeting should be in her country. To make it more comfortable for her to meet her in a for her 'safe' environment and to proof the (US) immigration authorities (necessary for the K1-Fiancee visa) that you have indeed a serious relationship.
By the way, this first visit to Russia will be an
unforgettable experience for you. And it is not difficult or too
expensive for you to travel to Russia (for Ukraine you don't need
For more information about documents, visit our Russian Visa chapter.
What do I have to take with me (presents)
It depends how big her (first-grade) family is, but here is my suggestion and what most men I know did:
You and I know that you never have met her in person, so this meeting will be exciting. You will be probably nervous, insecure and you will constantly thinking about the first words your will say to her or how your first greeting will be.
I have two suggestions:
Don't boast about the things you have
Being 'wealthy' is not a main priority for Russian people. Having many friends, a cozy family and being healthy and happy is more important. So do not express yourself or compare things where 'money' is involved, people could get a wrong impression from you and you even could insult them. To have your own car, boat, TV or microwave is normal for the western culture, but for many Russians (especially the ones who live outside the main cities) an almost unreachable, luxury. So skip this part during your conversations with her family and friends, and try not to insult them by making jokes (with the best intents) of the general Russian life, when you visit Russia.
Respect her culture
Russia has beautiful art, history and beautiful (ancient) cities. Although they do not smile a lot (Russians only smile when there is a specific reason to do that), the people are real nice and kind to you. Especially those you will meet in person. Remember, your girlfriend will turn into an 'important' person when she introduces you to her friends and family. And the reaction of all people you meet will be like they are very happy for her. Always show your respect and integrity, to all the people you meet. After a few days you will discover the beautiful part if this country and her inhabitants and I am sure Russia will create an unforgettable impression for you too!
Open your heart to her country
When my husband travels to the little town where I used to live then he is exited to meet his Russian friends and family again. For me, Russia will always be my home-country. For my husband it became his second-home country and he loves it. He made many Russian friends and I have more contact with my friends, then I had before I left Russia (Internet, Skype and Web-cams are magic-tools in this 'small' world). To be honest, I never 'left' Russia, I only moved to another place to 'live'. Traveling from my current residence to Moscow is even shorter than traveling from Moscow to my original place of birth where many relatives still live. Even flying from New York to Moscow is almost as far (in travel time) as flying from Moscow to Irkutsk-Siberia (where I was born). So what is distance?, just do not bother about that.
Travel to and in Russia
When you decide to meet her in her country, in this example Russia, you need to prepare yourself. Important for you to know is, where she lives (use Google Earth). Is it easy to travel to her city, what trains are going from main cities like Moscow. And more important, what is the travel time of these trains, because trains in Russia have a relative low speed.
Don't count the miles but the hours to travel.
And don't be afraid to ask your girlfriend to help you with that. Or suggest her to pick you up (offer her to pay for her trip) from the airport you land, so you can travel together to the place she lives and will have enough time to know each other.
Meet her first in a big city
What I suggest is to book a hotel in Moscow or St. Petersburg (depending which city is close to her home) or another big city and meet each other there. This is the easiest and fastest way to apply a Visa for you.
Most of the hotels in large Russian cities have visa-support. This means that they send you an invitation and reservation-confirmation form by fax or postal (fast) mail. But before booking a hotel, convince yourself this hotel has indeed visa-support or it will be a bit more difficult to apply for a visa. Most hotels in main cities have English translated websites, E-mail and FAX facilities and English speaking (reservation) staff.
Google keywords like: "hotels [Russia city] and you will find many English speaking websites.
Visa for Russia
For more detailed visa information, please
visit our Russian Visa chapter.
Of course you need to buy an Airline ticket too. Just contact your local airline or travel agent for the latest prices, or browse the Internet for cheap tickets. It is difficult to publish these airfares here, because the price today can change tomorrow. Check a month (or two) ahead is the best method to know the cheapest airfares. Many airlines have so called 'early booking' prices or 'last minute' prices. Never buy your airline ticket before you are certain when to receive your visa. Most (cheap) airline tickets cannot change the departure and arrival dates without paying extra. Only expensive airline tickets are 'open' tickets.
Do not take much cash with you, it is not necessary. The main cities (like Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg) but also smaller cities have many ATM machines where you can use general Credit- or Bank-cards (a credit card with a pin code is the best to take with you).
There are many hotels in Moscow or St. Petersburg. But most of the hotels you find on internet are expensive. Prices of $200 or $300 (a night) are 'normal' in these cities. But if you look good, there are also cheaper ones, like $45 or $65. Don't think these hotels are very bad or dirty, because they are not. Let your Russian girlfriend help you with this, she knows the language and can inquire any information you want to know.
When my husband visited me for the first time, he booked one of these hotels for $35 per night including breakfast (but that was in 2000). And this hotel was good, clean and everything was working. And the hotel was situated in an easy to reach area in the city (not faraway from the city center or a Subway station). All these hotels you will find on this Hotel-site. They have visa-support, this means that they can send you the necessary invitation and reservation form by fax and they speak (and write) English.
For the cheapest hotels you have to pay a one-time fee for this Visa support service (about $30). It can also be useful to rent a car (if you are not afraid!) which can be available on the airport. But perhaps much better is to rent a car with driver, most of the tourists choose this option. Although Moscow has a very good subway system, renting a car (with or without driver) is necessary when you want to visit places outside Moscow. Traveling by train is a good alternative, but only between cities. The small local trains are not very reliable related to their timetable. But the international trains (between big cities) are always running on time, at least that is my own experience. Like I said before, international trains are good, a first-class ticket is (still) not expensive and comfortable, but the speed is terrible (slow), because of the fact the rails need a lot of maintenance. For example from Moscow to Yekaterinburg (by train) is about 940 miles (1500km), by train this will take about 28 hours.
Renting a car is not cheap too, for latest fares, check the major car rental companies at the airport.
I know what you are thinking, driving in Moscow? You must be crazy. Perhaps I am, perhaps not, but my husband is not afraid and a good driver and yes a little bit crazy too (remember the main title of my site). Beside that, I am a very good guide and just close my ears and eyes when he starts to yell to these Russian 'drivers'.
Well I hope that your first meeting was an unforgettable one. Of course it is not up to me, what you must do after this first meeting. But in case you both have decided to go on, you can do two things:
Take your time
Of course everything is depending on how your first meeting was. But whatever you decide, take the time for it. Do not take any rash (like marriage) decisions when you both are head over heals in love. Try to learn each other better before making any important decisions. Unfortunately I have seen examples of people who wanted to marry each other after seeing each other for 2 weeks. I know, time and distance is a consideration to make such a decision sooner then you would do in a 'normal' way. But before asking her to marry, ask yourself first; Is she is the woman you want to stay the rest of your life with, is she indeed your perfect match? Some people need 2 or 4 weeks to make such a decision, others perhaps 4 or 8 months, there is no rule for this, but be sure you are both convinced to make this major step.
Another next step
Men from the US can apply for a K1-Fiancée (to be exact: the women has to do this), this can take from 3 to 6 months (if you do it right). And after she arrives in the US, you have 3 months to marry each other. You also could consider to marry her in Russia, but still she needs a (K3-spouse) visa to enter the US which is more difficult to get then a K1-fiancée visa.
If you decide to plan your second visit in her country; Use this time to create an atmosphere to make the final decision and talk as many as possible about the consequences of making this major step. Especially for her, this is not easy, because it means that she has to 'leave' her country, family and friends and work. Of course she knew this could happen when she decided to find a new partner using an online marriage agency. But at this specific moment she will be facing the reality and sometimes it can create doubts, which, by the way, are normal in this situation.
I remember when my husband asked me to marry him, I was very happy, I think the happiest woman of the world at that moment. But after some time, when I was preparing my final trip to his country, I started to realize that time had come to leave my work, my friends and my family, and my home country, and that was a little bit scary. But I can say, I never regret this major step I made in my life, not then, not today!
Give her time too and make her feel comfortable
So, give her time to get used to this idea and talk to her as much as possible about her future life in your country. And make her comfortable by telling her that you always will do your best to create possibilities for her to visit her home country now and then. Remember, a PC with Internet, Skype and a web cam can create wonders to keep her family and friends close to her.
During your visit, you must collect any evidence that you have visited her and her country. Collect all tickets (airplane, train, subway), bill's, (taxi, restaurants, hotel voucher, anything) and make copies of your photo's you shoot during your stay. You will need all this when you both decide to start the K1-fiancee procedure. All US authorities connected to the k1-fiancee visa procedure, will ask for it. They need all evidence that you both have indeed a serious relationship with the purpose to marry each other. So do not throw away any evidence that you have visited her and that you have been with her.