Virginia, US

Aug 21 2017

U.S. Mission in Russia Temporarily Suspends and then Reduces Nonimmigrant Visa Operations

United States

Nonimmigrant visa (NIV) operations will be suspended throughout Russia for eight days, starting August 23, 2017, according to a Fact Sheet released by the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Russia. NIV interviews will resume on September 1, 2017 at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow only; NIV interviews at the U.S. consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok will remain suspended until further notice.

The suspension and reduction in services comes after the Russian government imposed a personnel cap on the U.S. Mission in Russia in late July. Until the cap is lifted, NIV operations will operate at reduced capacity.

Scheduling NIV Interview Appointments

The U.S. mission has already begun cancelling NIV appointments throughout Russia. Visa applicants whose appointments have already been cancelled or who were originally scheduled to appear at the U.S. consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, or Vladivostok should call +7 (495) 745 3388 or 8 800 100 2554 (ITFN) if they wish to reschedule their appointments for Moscow. Although visa fees that have already been paid will not be refunded, they remain valid for one year from the date of payment.

Applicants scheduling NIV interviews in Russia should be aware of the following:

  • Due to the staffing cutback, new NIV appointments will be prioritized with deference given first to officials working for the United Nations, certain international organizations, and bilateral missions, and then to those travelling for medical or family emergencies. Interviews for other NIV categories will be scheduled as permitted by staffing.

  • A block of visa appointments will become available in September for students who are to begin studies in the United States in the fall.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow will continue to process visa applications for those exempt from an NIV interview.

Immigrant Visas

Immigrant visa processing has not been suspended, though the staffing cuts could lead to backlogs and the rescheduling of some immigrant visa appointments. Affected applicants will be contacted if their appointment changes.

Residents of Belarus

Residents of Belarus may no longer apply for new visas in Russia, and are encouraged to schedule NIV appointments at the U.S. embassies in Warsaw, Kyiv, or Vilnius.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Foreign nationals with an NIV interview scheduled at the U.S. Embassy or a U.S. consulate in Russia should expect that their interview will be cancelled, and may request a rescheduling at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Employers and foreign nationals should be prepared for potentially significant backlogs, given the consolidation of visa processing and prioritization of applications.

In some instances it may be possible to schedule an appointment at a consulate in a neighboring country, though appointments may fill quickly.

Applicants for immigrant visas should also expect delays in their visa processing, and those who have interviews scheduled should be on alert for communications from the U.S. Embassy in Russia.

Fragomen is closely monitoring visa operations in Russia and will issue further updates as developments occur. This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.