Large Reduction in Processing of U.S. Nonimmigrant Visas in Russia06 Sep 2017
As of September 1, 2017, the processing of U.S. visas in Russia has been greatly scaled back. Applications for nonimmigrant visas have been suspended indefinitely for all consulates in Russia, other than at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. This action was taken in response to the strict personnel cap recently imposed by Russia on the number of U.S. government personnel allowed in Russia.
U.S. Sanctions Russia; Russia Responds by Ordering Reduction of U.S. Personnel
On August 2, 2017, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act was signed into law. The law includes a provision that imposes sanctions on Russia for its interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Russian government responded by ordering the United States to reduce its staff at U.S. embassies and consulates to 455 people. Before the reduction, the U.S. embassy and consulates employed approximately 1,200 workers. This decrease in personnel resulted in the need to modify the nonimmigrant visa processing system in Russia.
Nonimmigrant Visa Processing Will Continue in Reduced Capacity
On August 23rd, the U.S. embassy and consulates in Russia temporarily suspended the processing of all nonimmigrant visas. On September 1st, processing resumed at a greatly reduced scale and solely at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Priority for visa applicants will be given to United Nations officials, international organizations with offices in the United States, and bilateral missions, as well as to those who are traveling for medical or family emergencies.
The reduced visa processing in Russia will no doubt lead to frustration and confusion for Russian nationals waiting to travel to the United States. At this time, there is no indication that the reduction in staffing levels will be lifted or reversed, so the modified processing is likely to continue indefinitely.
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