France will open visa centers in five Russian cities by the end of June 2013, the French Consulate General in Russia reported Tuesday.
“During his visit to Moscow in February 2013, French President Francois Hollande pledged to simplify as much as possible the visa application conditions for Russian nationals,” the consulate said in a statement.
“In pursuance of that commitment, the French authorities decided to establish five document submission centers in five Russian cities,” it said.
The centers will open in Rostov-on-Don in south Russia, Novosibirsk in west Siberia, Kazan in the republic of Tatarstan, Nizhny Novgorod on the Volga and Vladivostok in the Far East.
Applicants will be able to apply for short-term Schengen visas locally without having to come to France’s consulates general in Moscow, St. Petersburg or Yekaterinburg. Certain categories, including students, will be allowed to apply for long-term visas as well.
“The first of the regional visa centers, in Nizhny Novgorod, opened on Monday in the presence of French Ambassador Jean de Gliniasty,” the head of French Tourism Development Agency’s Russian mission, Inessa Korotkova, told RIA Novosti.
“We are very glad that the tourist flow from Russia to France has risen annually by 10-15 percent to reach 800,000 people in 2012, according to hotel statistics,” she said.
The opening dates for the other new centers will be announced soon. They will accept visa documents from June.