03 May 2021

United States

Services Sharply Limited at U.S. Embassy in Russia

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia has reduced its consular workforce by 75% due to a recent Russian decree that bans embassies of “unfriendly nations” from hiring foreign nationals. As a result, the embassy must significantly limit the services it offers. It will no longer process any nonimmigrant visa applications for nondiplomatic travel, nor will it offer routine U.S. citizen services, including passport renewal services or consular reports of birth abroad.  

Beginning May 12, the embassy will only provide emergency U.S. citizen services and a limited number of emergency (age-out and life-or-death situations) immigrant visas. In addition, the provision of emergency services may be further limited due to the inability of consular staff to travel outside of Moscow. 

U.S. visa and U.S. citizen consular services in Russia were already restricted in 2020 when  the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok (far-east Russia) was shut down and the U.S. Consulate in Yekaterinburg (far-west Russia) temporarily suspended operations due to safety and security issues. After briefly resuming services at Yekaterinburg in 2021, the U.S. ambassador announced the indefinite suspension of all visa and citizen services on April 1, 2021, which made the U.S. Embassy in Moscow the sole facility processing U.S. visas or assisting U.S. citizens in Russia. 

With the most recent announcement of the reduced workforce in Moscow, Russian nationals seeking U.S. nonimmigrant visas and most U.S. immigrant visas will be required to travel outside of Russia, such as to Kazakhstan. Further, U.S. citizens in Russia are strongly urged to depart before the June 15, 2021 deadline set by the Russian government. Russia previously granted automatic extensions to expiring Russian visas, due to COVID-19, through June 15, 2021. Due to current conditions, it is not expected that further automatic extensions will be granted. 

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Robin Paulino


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