A Russian Visa Invitation is a document confirming the right to receive a visa for Russia, and it is the main and only reason for the visa issuing.
Russian Visa invitations are mainly issued by Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) in form of Letters of Invitation printed on special highly protected forms. Like this one:
This form is used by FMS to issue Visa Invitation (Letters of Invitation) for Business or Commercial visas for Russia, for student visas, for work visas and also for Private (Homestay Guest) visas.
Russian organizations and companies accredited with the FMS apply for a Letter of Invitation separately for each foreign citizen.
State, federal and local Russian authorities can apply for Visa invitations to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
In this case, the visa invitation may be sent in the form of visa directive to the specific Russian consulate.
Visa directives are transmitted via secure telex channels and are printed at the consulate upon receipt.
Each visa directive is assigned a number. This number is reported to the host (inviting) organization for the transfer to the invited foreign citizen. This Telex number must be specified in the visa application when applying to the russian consulate.
Tourist Visa invitation is a document issued by a Russian travel company. In many countries Russian consulates accept faxed or e-mailed copies of a such Visa Invitation – Tourist voucher due to the fact that each voucher has a unique number and the consulate is able to verify it.
Tourist Voucher for Russian tourist visa looks like this: