US Embassy in Russia suspends issuing nonimmigrant visas

US to suspend nonimmigrant visa operations in Russia

US to suspend nonimmigrant visa operations in Russia

"Lavrov, speaking at a joint news conference in Moscow with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, was responding to a question about a USA decision to reduce its visa services in Russian Federation after Moscow ordered the United States to sharply cut its diplomatic and technical staff".

The US embassy said that, in connection with Russia's instruction to cut staff at US diplomatic missions to 455, US consulates in Russian Federation would stop issuing non-immigrant visas for an indefinite period, from 23 August.

The United States has consulates in St Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg, where a Reuters reporter saw a man unsuccessfully pleading with staff to accept his visa documents a day early.

The U.S. embassy said on Monday that Russia's decision to cut its staff "calls into question Russia's seriousness about pursuing better relations".

The move comes after Russian Federation retaliated last month against U.S. Congressional approval of fresh American sanctions, ordering Washington to cut its diplomatic presence in Russian Federation by 755 people. Russian President Vladimir Putin noted in an interview with VGTRK host Vladimir Solovyov that a total of 755 U.S. diplomats and technical staff members are to leave Russia. This was itself a tit-for-tat response to US sanctions brought against Russian Federation for its alleged cyberhacking and military involvements in Ukraine and Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would respond after a closer examination of the USA announcement.

In December 2016, 35 Russian diplomats were expelled and two retreats in NY and Maryland used by Russian diplomats were closed by the Obama administration over accusations of alleged Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election.

The changes in USA policy in Russia will affect only a small number of Russians. Now those wanting to visit the USA face travelling to Moscow for the application process. With fewer consulate staff available after the reduction on September 1, visa processing for Russian citizens will be conducted "on a greatly reduced scale", the embassy said.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow. The embassy said it would begin Monday to cancel visa interview appointments for Russians scheduled across the US mission's three consulates and at the Moscow embassy.

It said it would give priority to the United Nations, global organizations with offices in the United States, and bilateral missions.

Possibilities for cooperation between Russian and USA businesses have narrowed after Washington's decision to limit non-migration visa processing in Russia, he added.

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