United States to Curb Issuance of Non-Immigrant Visas in Russian Federation

Aug 22, 2017, 00:42
United States to Curb Issuance of Non-Immigrant Visas in Russian Federation

The embassy made the decision after the Russian Foreign Ministry ordered a cap on the number of USA diplomatic personnel in Russia, it said in a statement, adding that it would resume issuing visas in Moscow on September 1, but maintain the suspension at consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok indefinitely.

The US embassy in Russian Federation said yesterday the move had forced it to rethink its visa operations and that it was suspending all non-immigrant visa operations across Russian Federation on Aug 23.

After the resumption of services, only the embassy in Moscow will take and process applications and issue visas, a change likely to prevent many Russian citizens from far-flung parts of the country from traveling to the US. Visas will begin to be issued again as of September 1, but only in Moscow.

Visa interviews at the consulates are suspended "until further notice", according to the fact sheet.

Russian officials on Monday took a swipe at their American counterparts following a US visa freeze, accusing Washington of pushing for regime change in Moscow.

Asked about a possible Russian reaction, Lavrov said Russia will "study" the embassy's announcement, adding that unlike the US government Russia "is not going to take it out on USA citizens". The Kremlin says it is merely telling the USA to have the same staff level as Russia's in the US.

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But Klimov's appeared to be a lone voice, with most top Russian officials saying Moscow would show restraint.

First Deputy Chairman of Russia's Federation Council (upper house) Defense and Security Committee Franz Klintsevich was voiced his displeasure at the action, "I would describe the American decision on suspending nonimmigrant visa issuance in Russia as a dirty trick, which is definitely out of tune with the status of the United States as a great power".

The vast majority of the more than 1,000 employees at the various US diplomatic missions in Russian Federation, including the embassy in Moscow and the three consulates, are local employees. People realize that the issue at hand is a tit-for-tat measure. Russian and western diplomats have noted that the demanded cuts can be achieved at least partly by laying off Russian administrative and technical staff and does not call for the expulsion of hundreds of American diplomats.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russian Federation would not "take out its anger on American citizens".

"If someone hoped that in this case a bad example would be contagious, then he miscalculated", Lavrov said at a news conference Monday.

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