Why So Hard

Sample Russian Visa Documents

Sample Russian Visa Documents (Photo credit: hollaBackpackers)

The following guest post is by Amelia Hunter of Galstyan Immigration Law. For more information about visas and immigration law, contact her at Amelia@galstyanlaw.com or visit the Galstyan Law website.

Top 5 Countries That Are Very Hard to Get Into

In no particular order, these five countries are largely considered to be the most difficult to get into, whether as an immigrant, a tourist, student, or for some other reason. There are different reasons why each nation made the list, but all are valid. It is often said that forbidden fruit tastes sweetest, which is perhaps why so many individuals try ever harder to make it to these countries.


Russia’s strict and unbending visa processes are often a large deterrent for many. The various requirements are often taxing on tourists, and many often have no idea how to obtain a letter of invitation from some entity within Russia, which is a pivotal part of getting approved. Additionally, the application process is highly intrusive into the personal lives of applicants. Education, background, employment, health insurance, and military history are all laid bare, and refusal to answer any questions is likely to jeopardize any chance of being approved for a visa. Perhaps an immigration attorney can make the process easier and more efficient, but an applicant must generally be comfortable with the Russian government uncovering and inspecting most areas of their lives.


China is a surprisingly strict country when it comes to visitor visas. Of course, there are so many citizens in China that immigration must be strictly monitored, for this and a range of other reasons. China’s requirements for entry specifically dictate that an applicant must arrive in person at a Chinese embassy to submit the forms and various fees associated with the application for entry. Generally, the processing time is quick, but applicants can be sure that Chinese processors are frighteningly efficient at ensuring an applicant meets each and every requirement with precision before permitting entry. Another point of interest worthy of note is that the Chinese system specifically prohibits certain types of individuals from entering. One such restriction that was recently lifted was the ban on HIV-positive tourists from entering their borders.


India is an interesting case due to the fact that their visa requirements and regulations change quite frequently – and not just minor changes affecting very few individuals. Broad, sweeping reform is often made based on the government’s preferences and the perceived needs and best interests of the country. Immigration attorneys often find India an interesting challenge because one individual with the exact same qualifications as another may qualify for entry one month and the other may not qualify a few months later. Additionally, due to security issues and other factors, the Indian government has heightened security measures and considers each visa request to be a matter of great importance, prompting individuals with no prior experience with any immigration system to flock to the offices of many experienced and professional immigration lawyers for help.

North Korea

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea sits in this list due to its tightly closed borders. While other nations’ attitudes seem to say “if you fit all of our qualifications, you’re welcome to come in,” the DPRK’s attitude seems to convey a message of grudging allowance: “We’ll allow people in, but only if we have to.” Outright refusing to have diplomatic relations with some nations, the DPRK only allows certain cities and airlines and train companies to ferry in tourists and visitors, and even those often have a government-sanctioned “guide” who escorts them around the country for the duration of the visit. So the DPRK is easily among the most difficult nations to enter.

Democratic Republic of Congo

For a relatively poor, the DRC protects its borders with the fervency and policies of a much larger and more powerful one. Requiring an invitation approved by the government and that visitors meet a long list of requirements including several vaccinations, immunizations, and a range of fees, the DRC is considered to be one of the more difficult countries to get into. Additionally, there is a lack of organized regulation among the members of government and government offices that deal with immigration, causing individuals attempting to enter to often encounter a barrage of “unofficial fees” at the airport and processing stations.

The New York Times In Transit blog offered an update for visa seekers last month.


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