US decreases visa operations in Russia

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 22 Aug 2017, 19:56:04 | Updated : 22 Aug 2017, 20:00:13
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US decreases visa operations in Russia

The United States began to scale back its visa services in Russia on Monday, drawing an angry reaction from Moscow three weeks after President Vladimir Putin ordered Washington to more than halve its embassy and consular staff.

The US Embassy said it was suspending all non-immigrant visa operations across Russia on Wednesday and that when they resumed on Sept. 1, they would be offered "on a greatly reduced scale".

Beginning Monday, it would be cancelling a number of appointments and asking applicants to reschedule, reports Reuters.

"Capacity for interviews in the future will be greatly reduced because we have had to greatly reduce our staffing levels to comply with the Russian government’s requirement," it said in a statement.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the US demarche looked like an attempt to provoke ill-feeling among ordinary Russians against the authorities.

Lavrov said the US visa move had a "political overtone" and that Moscow would consider how best to respond.

TRAVEL HASSLE

The US step means Russian citizens wanting to visit the United States for business, tourism or educational reasons will no longer be able to apply via US consulates outside Moscow and will have to travel to the Russian capital instead.

"You now have an entire nation's work coming through one office with far fewer staff," said Matthew Morley, an American immigration attorney based in Moscow.

"This scenario would be like all of America suddenly only having one office in Los Angeles to process (visa applications from) New York, Chicago, DC, Boston, and Miami."

Vehicles drive past the embassy of the US in Moscow, Russia on Monday. -Reuters Photo
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