Visa and Passport Information

Immigration regulations are subject to change at short notice. Prospective visitors are advised to check on the current situation before departure.


Students must have passports that are valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay. Nationals of Kazakhstan who live abroad need passports which are valid at least six months beyond the date of entry.


International students need a visa to come to Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev University’s International Cooperation Department will provide assistance to students applying for their visa. After a student is admitted to the summer program, Nazarbayev University will send a detailed letter with instructions about how to apply for a visa and detailing next steps. Below is a brief overview of the process.

Nazarbayev University will provide visa invitation letters (VIL) which will be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). It will take up to 10-15 days to issue the VLA from the MFA. We will need the following student information in order to prepare the VIL:

  1. A photocopy of the passport
  2. Home address.
  3. Student’s major at their home institution
  4. Place of visa issuance (location where you will be applying for the visa).
  5. Copy of student’s university ID card

After the issuance of the VIL from the MFA our International Cooperation office will email the scanned copies of the VIL. This form needs to be enclosed with your visa application package and sent to the appropriate Kazakhstan Embassy/Consulate via a visa processing agency:

The visa application package should include:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Visa invitation letter (VIL)
  3. Visa Application. A separate visa application form must be completed for each person. All fields must be completed otherwise your application may be refused. Please see the Visa application instructions for details.
  4. Photo. One passport size (3,5×4,5 cm) photo of the applicant, which should be stapled to the marked space in the upper right hand corner of the application form.
  5. Letter of Request. A letter with a request to issue a visa addressed to the Consular Section of the Embassy of Kazakhstan. Please, indicate your name, the purpose of your trip, your contact in Kazakhstan, the dates of your planned trip, and places to be visited. Sample of the letter.
  6. Letter from university/college/school. Please provide a letter confirming your enrollment.
  7. Consular fee. Consulate accepts only a money order for visa processing fee. Please attach a photocopy of your money order. Cash, and business or personal checks will not be accepted. Visa fees may vary by the citizenship of student.

For more information please visit this page.

Registration with the Immigration police

Upon arrival to Kazakhstan all students receive a local immigration card at the airport by the customs guards. The card should not be lost and must be kept in your passport. If it is lost the passport holder will not be allowed to leave the country until a replacement has been obtained. Foreigners are required to register with the Immigration police upon arrival within 5 calendar days. To register, International students will need to submit their passports to NU’s Department of International Cooperation within 5 business days from the date of entry to Kazakhstan. The same registration rules apply for every re-entry to Kazakhstan. All visa-related questions should be addressed to Miras Sharipov (


Applying to SSRES


SSRES 2017 is open for both graduate and undergraduate students as well as working professionals. Students should be eligible to obtain a visa to live and study in Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev University will provide visa information and support (included in the cost of the program).

We accept FLAS and most other scholarships.

Deadline for applications is March 1, 2017

Questions about the program can be addressed to:

Victoria Thorstensson, Program Director (

Malika Turkmenova, Student Affairs Manager (

To apply

In order to apply to the program, the students must fill out the online Application Form  and arrange for one letter of recommendation to be sent on their behalf. Follow the instructions on the Application Form.

Student Life

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Housing and Meals


International students will live in our NU dormitories. A typical room has two beds, two study desks, wardrobes or built-in closets, and bath. Students will also have access to a fully-equipped kitchen in the dormitories. Dormitories contain everything a student needs including a small grocery store, pharmacy, laundry, cafeteria, salon, study rooms, and more. There is security at the entrance to the dormitories and resident assistance is available 24/7. All persons entering the area must display a student pass issued by NU.

The meal plan includes two meals a day (lunch and dinner) from Monday to Friday. For breakfast, students can prepare food in their kitchens, or purchase breakfast at the cafeteria or at one of the coffee shops on campus. Weekend meals will be either included in the excursions, or will be purchased separately.

Events at Nazarbayev University

Students will be able to participate in the regular student and academic life at Nazarbayev University during our regular Summer Term.

Gym and Other Facilities Access


Students will get a free gym pass for the duration of the program.

Program Cost and Deadlines


Program Cost and Deadlines

Program dates for SSRES 2017: May 29 – July 22

SSRES 2017 Schedule:

May 26 – Students arrive to Astana

May 27-28 – Proficiency testing, course placement. Cultural program starts

May 29 – Classes start

July 18 – Last day of classes

July 19-21 – Final Exams and exit proficiency testing

July 22-23 – Students leave Astana


Option 1: $6500

8-week Intensive Russian Course (8 Carnegie Credits, 16 ECTS credits, 120 contact hours)

“Practical Kazakh Language and Culture” course, free and included in the program

Housing, meal plan, gym pass, and cultural program are included

Option 2: $7500

8-week Intensive Russian Course (8 Carnegie credits, 16 ESTC credits, 120 contact hours)

One elective course in Eurasian Area Studies

“Practical Kazakh Language and Culture” course, free and included in the program

Housing, meal plan, gym pass, and cultural program are included

Option 3: $3500

8-week Intensive Kazakh course (8 Carnegie credits, 16 ECTS credits)

“Practical Russian Language and Culture” course, free and included in the program

Housing, meal plan, gym pass, and cultural program are included

* In order to promote the study of the Kazakh language in the world, SSRES is pleased to offer this special introductory price for our Kazakh course offering for 2017

Option 4: $5000

8-week Intensive Kazakh course (8 Carnegie credits, 16 ECTS credits)

“Practical Russian Language and Culture” course, free and included in the program

Elective course in Eurasian Area Studies

Housing, meal plan, gym pass, and cultural program are included


The program fee includes:

Housing (in a dormitory, shared two-person rooms)

Airport pick up / drop off

Excursions, cultural program

Tutoring program

Books (to be returned to the library after the program)

Gym pass

Meal plan

Visa invitation letter issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to apply for L1 student visa

*These are estimated expenses to help you plan and prepare for the program. These amounts are subject to change depending on international economic factors and past participant reports. Student expenditures in the country depend greatly on personal spending habits, post-or during-program travel, and available funds.


  1. There is a non-refundable deposit of $200.
  2. Public transport may be needed to go places outside the campus. Students living in dorms will be able to walk to classes.
  3. The meal plan include lunch and dinner only (Monday – Friday)

Cultural Program


During the eight-week stay in Kazakhstan, students will be able to participate in weekly excursions in and around the city of Astana, including visiting the national park Burabay (Borovoye), the KARLAG (Karaganda Corrective Labor Camp) – one of the largest labor camps in the GULAG system, and a trip to the Korgalzhyn nature reserve – the northernmost habitat of pink flamingoes. Living and studying on the campus of Nazarbayev University, situated just across the street from the site of Expo 2017 “Future Energy,” students will become emerged in the atmosphere of international cooperation and entrepreneurship.

Astana Modern City Tour (left bank) – a three-hour tour of the left bank (Modern Astana) includes trips to  Independence Square, Khazret Sultan Mosque, Water-Green boulevard complex, Astana-Bayterek monument, the Round Square, and the shopping and entertainment center, “The Khan’s Tent” (Khan Shatyr).


Kazakh culture day – a day dedicated to elements of the Kazakh culture related to language and rituals; specific rituals linked to interactions of man with nature, and rituals related to stages of the socialization of men (besyk toi, tusau kesu, bet ashar, shashu, til, ashar, etc.).


 Traditional Nomadic Hunting with Eagles Nomads took such an interest in working with eagles that they domesticated them in order to use them for hunting. By participating in this tour, students will learn the history of Berkutchi, ways of hunting with eagles, as well as some basic techniques. This demonstration of hunting will take place outside Astana.


 KARLAG Tour and the Balbals, Ancient Stone Guards of the Kazakh Steppe – in this guided tour of the “Dolinka” village, students will visit the memorial museum for the victims of political repressions. Students will get to see prisoners’ everyday objects; including a diary that describes the events of 1930-1960’s, photos and documents, beds and minutiae of the prisoners.


The Old” City Tour (right bank) and Kazakh Markets Astana used to be one of the old Soviet cities, named Tselinograd and Akmola during the years of 1961-1998. After visiting the modern side of the city, students will be able to experience and compare the right bank of the city, and see how much of the city has changed since Astana had become the capital. Students can walk along the Central Park, the Ishym riverbank, get a boat tour of the city, and visit churches, mosques and synagogues. A stop at the big central market and a lunch in the old city will finish off the tour.


Balkaragay” Country Club and Stables An exciting trip for horse and nature enthusiasts. An experienced instructor will give a lesson on horse riding at the same race track where training and competitions are held and race horses are kept. Afterwards, students will be treated to a delicious Kazakh meal with aromatic tea from a Russian samovar (heated metal container traditionally used to heat and boil water in Russia).


Astana Day Festivities on July 6, Astana celebrates its anniversary as Kazakhstan’s capital. Astana Day, as it’s called, is a national holiday in Kazakhstan. Every year this bright and exciting event is a fun and beautiful celebration for the city’s visitors and residents. Weeklong festivities with vibrant performances and cultural events entertain people while celebrating Kazakh culture and Kazakhstan’s multi-ethnic social fabric. The festival recognizes Astana’s transformation from a provincial city into a 21st century regional hub.


Weekend Trip to Burabay (Borovoe) – students will have a guided tour to Burabay National park (Borovoe), the pearl of Kazakhstan, which occupies 85,000 hectares of the northeastern part of Kokshetau elevation. There are 14 lakes in the park, each having surface area of more than 1 sq. km, and a large number of breathtaking views over the small lakes. The trip includes meals and a one night hotel stay.


 Explore Kazakhstan Optional Trips

For a long weekend in the middle of the program, students will have an opportunity to take an optional trip to one of the following destinations:



Almaty is the former capital of Kazakhstan and the biggest city in the country. Students will take a train to Almaty and be housed and entertained by Nazarbayev University students. The trip will include a tour of Almaty and visits to such sites as the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan,  Republic Square and the Monument to Independence, the Abay Opera and Ballet Theatre, Astana Square, Almaty Railway Station, the Central Mosque, the Green Bazaar, Panfilov Park, Abay Square and the Palace of the Republic.

Turkestan and Shymkent


Turkestan is 1,500-year-old historic city located in southern Kazakhstan. The nearby city of Shymkent was the political and spiritual center for Turkic-speaking people and a former capital of the Kazakh Khanate. One of the main sights of the city is the mausoleum of Khodzha Akhmed Yassaui. This trip will also include a visit to Shymkent’s attractions: the Tauyelsizdik Sayabagy square, the Regional Museum, and the Samal Bazar.

Bishkek and Issyk-Kul Lake (Kyrgystan)


Students will have an opportunity to visit Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek is a vibrant city surrounded by large trees and situated within the Tien Shan mountain range in the Chui Valley. The city tour will be followed by a night trip to the second largest lake in the world called “Issyk-Kul”(translated as “warm lake” by the local Kyrgyzs).

 Photo credits: Dulat Yesnazar, Victoria Thorstensson, Togzhan Sultanbayeva, Adema Nurgaliyeva, Jyldyz Tabyldy, Aiganym Ayazbayeva, Rustem Aitkhozhin


The main component of SSRES 2017 will be a choice of one intensive eight-week course in either Russian or Kazakh, offering 120 contact hours of in-class instruction in all aspects of the language. We offer the following levels:

Russian: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced/Superior. Students are placed into appropriate levels of Russian, according to their level of proficiency (as defined in ACFFL Proficiency Guidelines).

Kazakh: Beginning (NEW for SSRES 2017!)

The Russian and Kazakh curriculum at SSRES is taught using the communicative method of instruction through linguistic and cultural immersion. Foreign language courses are taught by professionals, trained in current methodologies and experienced in teaching international students.

Student Tutors: In additional to coming to regular office hours held by the instructors, students will be able to practice their conversational Russian and Kazakh skills and get additional support with coursework from bilingual student tutors.

Elective Courses in Eurasian Studies

SSRES 2017 will offer optional elective courses in Eurasian Studies taught in English.

HST 100 History of Kazakhstan (6 ECTS or 3 Carnegie)

This course focuses on the history of the present Kazakhstani territory in the early modern and modern periods (XVI c. to the present). This course will start with a sketch of the history of the Qazaq khanate and with a study of the interaction between the three juzes and their (sedentary and nomadic) neighbours in the XVIII and XIX cc., including the Qing empire and the Central Asian polities on the south. Then we will study the history of the Qazaqs under Russian rule and in the early Soviet period, using the full collectivisation drive and the ensuing famine as a final periodization landmark. Following some recent scholarship, we will look at this period as a trajectory of integration of the Qazaqs into the Tsarist and Soviet State. The last part of the course will be consecrated to the study of the mature Soviet period. We will look in particular at some aspects of State-driven socio-economic transformation, the role of local leadership, and the way Soviet policies affected the emergence and consolidation of present-day independent Kazakhstan.

HST 104 Central Asian History II (6 ECTS or 3 Carnegie)

This course is a survey of the history of southern, predominantly settled Central Asia from the late Timurids to the present. We will look at the history of the territory that corresponded to the Turkestan general-governorship under Tsarist rule, which encompassed the main oases of Transoxiana, but also mountain areas and plateaus to the east, deserts to the west and south-west, and the fringes of the steppe to the north. We will also make some incursions in the history of neighbouring territories, in particular those of Safavid and Qajar Persia, Eastern (Chinese) Turkestan, and present-day Afghanistan. This class focuses on issues of political structure and legitimisation, competition over natural resources and settled-nomadic relations, colonialism in its Russian variant, and the social and economic transformations that occurred in the Soviet era. The students will be exposed to a variety of primary sources of very different genres (from chronicles to waqfnamas, from OGPU reports to fiction movies) and will also be introduced to some older and new historiographical debates.

WLL 230: Survey of Post-Soviet Russian Literature and Culture (6 ECTS or 3 Carnegie)

This course is dedicated to the study of contemporary Russian literature and culture after 1991 (after the dissolution of the Soviet Union). We will explore works written in various genres of prose and poetry (traditional novel, dystopias, conceptualist poetry, postmodernist fiction, popular and detective literature, women’s prose, creative nonfiction) and other modes of cultural production (music, political and performance art) and debate the place and role of literature in the modern world. We will read a wide range of Russophone writers and poets who, while coming from diverse ethnic backgrounds of the former Soviet space, chose to write in Russian and to inscribe their work into Russian literary tradition. Our authors will include Victor Pelevin, Vladimir Sorokin, Tatyana Tolstaya, Ludmila Ulitskaya, Svetlana Alexievich, Zakhar Prilepin, Eugene Vodolazkin, Boris Akunin, and others. While discussing their texts, we will address the issues of politics, re-assessment of history, memory, gender, national identity, violence and terrorism. Assessments will include regular reading response papers and reviews, and a number of scaffolded assignments that will lead students to produce an analytical paper on the subject of their choosing. The format of this course will consist of lectures, discussions, and film showings

Free Introductory Course in Kazakh Language and Culture (for the students, enrolled in the Russian courses)

SSRES 2017 will also offer a free non-credit-bearing course “Practical Course in Kazakh Language and Culture.” The course is designed for learners who are interested in Kazakh language, culture, and cuisine, and who have little or no previous experience with Kazakhstan. The course will introduce students to elements of Kazakh culture related to language and rituals, especially rituals related to interactions of man with nature (Cosmocentrism), and rituals related to the stages of socialization of man (besyk toi, tusau kesu, bet ashar, shashu, til ashar, etc.). The course will be taught in English. Each session will give relevant vocabulary in Kazakh with translations and explanations in English. This course will also introduce students to basic grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation of Kazakh, and help them develop basic speaking skills.

Free Introductory Course in Russian Language and Culture (for the students, enrolled in the Kazakh courses)

SSRES 2017 will also offer a free non-credit-bearing course “Introduction to Russian Language and Culture.” The course is designed for students who are interested in getting basic (survival) Russian language skills and an introduction to Russian culture and cuisine in Russia and in post-Soviet Kazakhstan. Students will learn the alphabet, acquire basic skills in reading, speaking and understanding Russian in basic and predictable contexts (introductions, asking for directions, ordering a meal at a restaurant, speaking about their family and interests). The course will be taught in English with some language practice in Russian.

Eurasian Studies Lecture Series

Designed to be broad in focus and accessible to general audiences, lectures on topics related to culture, history, politics and literature of Kazakhstan are given by the Nazarbayev University professors who introduce the students to the most current research in their fields. The Lecture Series is open to the SSRES 2017 participants, as well as to NU students, faculty and community.

Eurasian Studies Lecture Series for SSRES 2016 included the following presentations:

Zbigniew Wojnowski “De-Stalinization and Its Limits in the 1950s Kazakhstan”

Alexei Trochev “Between Convictions and Reconciliations: Criminal Justice in Kazakhstan”

Beatrice Penatti “The Great Kazakh Famine: An Overview of Recent Research”

Caress Schenk “ Labor Migration in Kazakhstan and the Eurasian Region”

Naomi Caffee (University of Arizona) “Kazakhstani Writers and the Russophone World”

Alexander Morrison “Rethinking the Russian Conquest of Central Asia”

The list of the lectures for 2017 will be posted here in the spring of 2017.


Past electives included:

SSRES 2016

Politics and Governance of Eurasia (Professor Charles Sullivan, 3 Carnegie Credits (6 ECTS credits)

The purpose of this course is to acquaint students with the politics of the Eurasian region (also commonly referred to as the former Soviet Union (FSU) and/or the post-Soviet space). Specifically, this course will examine topics such as the collapse of the USSR; historical legacies of the Soviet Union in Eurasia today; the nature of the ruling regimes in Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus; unresolved conflicts and enduring wars; Great Power relations; as well as a variety of regional challenges such as state failure, Islamic terrorism, and the regional drug trade. This is an advanced undergraduate seminar designed to enhance students’ overall understanding of the study of contemporary Eurasian politics.

Introduction to Translation (Professor Victoria Thorstensson,  3 Carnegie Credits (6 ECTS credits)

The course will provide an overview of the history of translation, from the classical to the contemporary period, both in the West and in Russia. Students will read and discuss a selection of the most influential theoretical texts from the field of translation studies, including works by John Dryden, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Walter Benjamin, Roman Jakobson, and others. Discussions will center on questions of translatability, fidelity, accuracy, and the politics of translation. In practice sessions, we will discuss approaches and methods used by professionals in the fields of news translation, advertisement translations, subtitling, and interpreting. In the second part of the course, students will translate fiction, including poetry (Pushkin, Mandelstam, Brodsky), a children’s story and a short story of their choice. Students will workshop their translation projects in these fields and genres and compare different translations (those created by practicing translators and by the students in class) in order to examine how each version works and discuss how translators make decisions of language, style, format, and cultural equivalency.