Last updated July 9, 2021

Today’s Status, Looking Towards Fall 2021 — Yellow

We’re hearing good things from our local friends who are living in and traveling around Russia, but right now there are limitations about foreigners crossing borders and entering the country. Airports opened recently to some countries and Russian consulates in the US began processing visas in August 2020 after being closed for months, but then quickly closed again. Passengers from the US are still not allowed to enter.

Check below to get more details on some key aspects that we’re watching. Each of these components help us determine when we’ll be able to send volunteers to Russia again (it’s stuff you’re going to want to know).  Also, this info changes often. Our goal is to keep things current with weekly updates, so check back frequently.

Getting There

Since March 2020, Russia has had some pretty tight border restrictions that are currently still in place. Right now, most foreigners aren’t allowed in. 

Starting August 1st, 2020, the Russian Federation started allowing entry to nationals and residents of some countries. Travelers from these approved countries will need to arrive with proof of a negative COVID-19 test (issued no more than 72 hours before arrival). 

In June, May, and April 2021, the country resumed flights with a handful of additional countries, and also increased flights between others — movement like this hasn’t been seen for a few months, so it’s an update that looks promising. 

Russian consulates have started processing some visas but because U.S. citizens are still not allowed to travel to Russia, Russian consulates are only processing a very limited number of visas.

Flights are opening again …. kind of. For now, only selected categories of people (depending on where they are traveling from) are allowed into Russia but progress is progress.

Daily Life

Testing in Moscow and other urban centers is robust and widely available, with workers in some industries having mandatory regular testing. The healthcare system in urban centers is good, with private hospitals offering good quality care.

As of July 9th, Russia has 292.3 active cases per 100,000 which is significantly lower than current cases in the United States.

All Moscow school children returned to in-person classes on January 18th.

We’ve seen a series of openings throughout this past year, with some closures as numbers have spiked. Though there has been a resurgence of cases, Moscow’s museums, cultural centers, and libraries reopened, just at limited capacity (which is the case for theaters, cinemas, and concert halls).

Out & About

Just like at home, there are some precautions to take even though lots of aspects of life have opened right back up, especially for vaccinated citizens. Beginning June 28th, cafes and restaurants will only serve those who are fully vaccinated, who present a negative Covid test (taken within 78 hours) ,or have proof they’ve had Covid in the past 6 months.

Masks, social distancing, and limiting capacity are all things you’ll run into on a visit to Russia right now, especially since there has been an uptick of cases (more and more provinces are reintroducing Covid precautions after being temporarily lifted).

We have heard great things from our local friends about travel in Russia, with a handful of our Local Coordinators traveling around the resort towns, enjoying beach days, and visiting some of our favorite spots in Russia. Right now, it’s looking like inner-country flights, train trips, and bus rides are all a go. You can soak up everything from dreamy mountain lakes to sandy beach towns, plus all of our go-to cities in this huge country!

As things stand now (and the direction Russia is moving), if we were able to send volunteers, they would likely need to stay in Russia for their semester. Plan on a seaside resort trip to sunny Sochi, falling head over heels in love with St. Petersburg, and soaking up the European charm of Kaliningrad. Nizhny Novgorod isn’t to be missed either — same with charming towns along the Golden Ring. There’s a lot to see in Russia, that’s for sure. 

Okay, now what?  Should I still apply for Russia

If you’re thinking “that’s all really good to know, but what does that mean for me?” we have some good news to share: time is still totally on your side.

We’ve seen policies change without notice that have made the difference between us thinking we’ll need to wait longer and helping us determine that a location is something we’re pretty optimistic about. Sometimes that has happened in the span of just a couple of weeks or even in a single day. A lot could be decided before Fall 2021.

So we say start your application now so that you’re ready when the time comes. We are going to need volunteers who are ready to go right when things change for the better, which is why we think it’s a good idea to have your application in (even if things potentially look uncertain right now). Time really is on your side.

We’re also here for all of your questions. We’d love to talk about deferring to a later semester if things still need more time or finding a country right now that’ll be a good fit for you. You can bet that once things open up, you’ll be the first to know!