Suspension of Nonimmigrant Visa Operations in Russia

September 13, 2017

 

The U.S. diplomatic mission to Russia announced on August 21, 2017, that "Due to the Russian government-imposed cap on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia, all nonimmigrant visa operations across Russia will be suspended on August 23. Operations will resume in Moscow on September 1; visa operations at the U.S. consulates will remain suspended indefinitely. Currently scheduled appointments will be cancelled and applicants will be provided instructions on how to reschedule." Note that DOS is not revoking visas that have already been issued.

A DOS Fact Sheet contains further details. Some important responses in the fact sheet include:

  • Q: I am a university student studying in the United States. I need to get to my university now. Will there be an appointment available to me? A: We are planning to offer a block of visa appointments to students in early September.
  • Q: What if I qualify for a nonimmigrant visa without an interview? A: The U.S. Embassy in Moscow will continue to process nonimmigrant visas without an interview for those who qualify. NAFSA note: This refers to applicants eligible for waiver of the personal appearance requirement under 22 CFR 41.102(b), including:
    • Applicants applying to renew a visa issued at the same consulate, in the same visa category, within one year of the prior visa's expiration
    • Applicants for a diplomatic or official visa
    • However, consular officers do have the discretion to require an interview in any application, in which case the visa could not be renewed while the suspension is in effect
     

We hope that the initial impact of the nonimmigrant visa suspension will be mitigated by the fact that most visas for students beginning studies in Fall, 2017 should already have been issued. Advisers should, though, inform their students and scholars of the impact the suspension might have on their future plans, if they were planning to apply for a visa at a consular post in Russia (e.g., new visa applicants, applicants for a visa in a new category after a change of status in the United States, etc.).

The U.S. Embassy Moscow website states that nonimmigrant visa interviews resumed in Moscow on a reduced scale on September 1, 2017, but visa operations at the U.S. Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok remain suspended until further notice. “Because of reduced staffing, we had to cancel and reschedule previous NIV interview appointments. NIV applicants who have their interviews canceled should call the number below to reschedule their interview at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for a later date. NIV applicants originally scheduled for an interview at the U.S. consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok should call the number below if they wish to reschedule their interviews at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. For rescheduling of nonimmigrant visa interviews and other questions, contact: +7 (495) 745 3388 or 8 800 100 2554 (ITFN).”