U.S. Embassy in Moscow Will Now Be Sole Place to Get Tourist, Other Temporary Visas From Russia

Expect huge time delays and, most likely, a trip to Moscow if trying to obtain a visitor or other temporary visa to the U.S. from Russia.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

For citizens and residents of Russia who are trying to obtain a temporary, nonimmigrant (NIV) visa to the United States (for example, a tourist, student, or temporary business visa), the process just became a lot harder.

The Russian government has imposed a personnel cap on the U.S. Mission there. As a result of the reduced staff numbers, the Department of State (DOS) has announced that it will briefly suspend issuance of all nonimmigrant (temporary) visas, starting on August 23, 2017.

This may affect people with existing visa appointments even earlier. The U.S. Mission began canceling current NIV appointments across Russia on August 21, 2017. (It will not, however, directly affect applicants for green cards, otherwise known as "immigrant visas"--though even they might be affected by overall delays.)

Beginning September 1, 2017, the U.S. embassy in Moscow will resume holding nonimmigrant visa interviews, but only on a limited basis. It will be the sole U.S. embassy in Russia to offer nonimmigrant visas; visa interviews at the U.S. consulates located in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok have been suspended "until further notice."

If you had a visa interview canceled at a U.S. embassy in Russia, you should have received an email with further instructions and contact information. If you didn't get the email, and/or you wish to reschedule your visa interview for the Moscow location (or you have related questions), you may contact: +7 (495) 745 3388 or 8 800 100 2554 (ITFN).

Residents of Belarus must now follow entirely new procedures. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg will no longer be accepting new visa applications from them, and plan to reschedule existing visa appointments of people who've already paid the application fee. Residents of Belarus are being encouraged to schedule their visa appointments at the U.S. Embassy in either Warsaw, Poland; Kyiv, Ukraine; or Vilnius, Lithuania.

Expect significant delays with the rescheduling process and in obtaining a nonimmigrant visa to the U.S. from Russia in the foreseeable future. Students awaiting F-1 visas may be particularly affected; while the U.S. embassy plans to offer a block of appointments in early September, this may be too late for the start of classes at many U.S. colleges and universities. Contact your school's foreign student adviser for more information.

Also, visa applicants will have to wait in line behind any applicants needing to travel to the U.S. on an official or diplomatic basis, such as for visits to the United Nations or other international organizations with U.S. offices. Priority might also be given to emergency visa applications, such as for funerals, hospitalizations, or court proceedings in the United States.

More information can be found on this U.S. government Fact Sheet.

Effective Date: August 21, 2017