On Monday, August 21, 2017, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow announced that starting August 23 all nonimmigrant visa operations across Russia will be temporarily suspended. The mission announced that it would recommence services in Moscow on Sept. 1, but visa operations at all other U.S. consular locations in Russia would remain on hold.

All visa appointments scheduled at this time will be cancelled and applicants will be provided instructions on how to reschedule. Additional information on appointment cancellations and rescheduling is provided on the U.S. Embassy’s website.

This announcement comes after Russia demanded that the U.S. mission reduce its staff by nearly two-thirds (from more than 1,200 to 455), to the same size as the Russian mission in the United States. In light of this reduction in staff, the mission has announced that staffing changes will also impact some immigrant visa applications. Further, the mission has announced that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the Consulate in St. Petersburg will no longer accept new visa applications for residents of Belarus. Residents of Belarus are encouraged to schedule visa appointments at the U.S. in Warsaw, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, or the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the three consulates in Russia will continue to provide the full range of American Citizen Services.

This announcement will likely lead to large delays for the thousands of Russians who apply for U.S. nonimmigrant visas each year. Senior Russian lawmakers on Monday suggested a parallel response that could impact Americans seeking Russian visas.