United States to Curb Issuance of Non-Immigrant Visas in Russian Federation

US to suspend nonimmigrant visa operations in Russia

MOSCOW-The U.S.is sharply cutting back visa services in Russian Federation after the Kremlin responded to fresh U.S. sanctions by capping the number of U.S. diplomats in the country.

The embassy also said that Russian citizens who had paid a visa fee before the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and consulates throughout the country canceled visa operations as of Wednesday, will not be able to either get a refund or transfer their applications to another country. Visas will not be issued by the consulates general in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

The plan, to reduce the US presence in its diplomatic mission in Russia, was meant to bring the number in line with Russian diplomatic staff in the United States; Putin added that he hoped the order would end a dispute begun in December, during the Obama administration, in which 35 Russian diplomats were expelled from the United States in retaliation for Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, Bloomberg News said Monday.

The United States Embassy in Moscow announced Monday it would temporarily stop issuing all non-immigrant visas in Russian Federation and then severely curtail visa operations as it slashes its staff to comply with the latest salvo in Washington's diplomatic standoff with Moscow.

A Russian flag flying next to the USA embassy building in Moscow on July 31. As part of that response, the USA took back two compounds used by the Russians, one in NY and one on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

For Russians, the announcement spells long delays with visas taking months longer to review and all future applications going through Moscow.

"We will maintain sufficient staff to carry out essential elements of our mission", the embassy added.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was an attempt to provoke discontent among Russians towards their own government.

"That is an unplanned effect of the [Russian] decision rather than a political issue", Rodzianko added.

"We believe this to be evidence of Washington's attitude for further forced deterioration of relations with Moscow".

"So if someone hoped that this stupid example would be contagious, they miscalculated", he was cited as saying by the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

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