The U.S. Embassy in Moscow announced Monday that some visa services will resume at three U.S. consulates in Russia, where visa issuance had been halted since August amidst a diplomatic dispute. The three consulates—in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok—will resume nonimmigrant visa interviews beginning Dec. 11, but services will not return to the normal levels that existed before the suspension.

Key points:

  • Beginning Monday, the consulates will offer limited visa interviews for nonimmigrant visa applicants (tourists, business visitors, students and other nonimmigrant categories).
  • The embassy in Moscow will continue to offer limited interviews for nonimmigrant, immigrant and diversity visas.

Background: In August, Russia ordered the U.S. diplomatic mission to cut about two-thirds of its staff in response to U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia for its meddling in the U.S. presidential election and its annexation of Crimea. To comply with the order, the U.S. Embassy suspended visa issuance in Moscow for one week and stopped visa services indefinitely at the three consulates. On Sept. 1, limited nonimmigrant visa interviews in Moscow were resumed and visa services that do not require interviews were resumed at the three consular locations.

BAL Analysis: The resumption of services will allow applicants to appear for their interviews outside of Moscow rather than traveling to the Russian capital. The wait times for visa interviews in Moscow, which reached 85 days for some visa categories, may become shorter as a result. Those applying outside Moscow should anticipate delays as the consulates will be operating with significantly reduced staffs, and may wish to consult the U.S. Embassy’s website for further information.