“Due to the Russian government-imposed cap on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia, all non-immigrant visa operations across Russia will be suspended on Aug. 23,” the U.S. Embassy announced in a statement published Monday morning. “Operations will resume in Moscow on Sept. 1; visa operations at the U.S. consulates will remain suspended indefinitely,” the statement added.
Inside the US Embassy
Previously, Russian government reduced the number of U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 from more than 1,200 employees. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has also barred U.S. embassy staff access to a warehouse and recreational property in Moscow’s suburbs from the beginning of August. Consular and embassy services for U.S. citizens will not be impacted by the actual measures. In such circumstances, Russian citizens who have already paid their visa fees will not be eligible for refunds but the payments will remain valid for one year. At the same time, Russia plans to introduce retaliatory wait times for U.S. citizens applying for Russian visas. The U.S. Embassy issued 136,665 nonimmigrant visas in Moscow in 2016 according to official figures released by the State Department. By comparison, the U.S. consulate in Vladivostok, a city in the far east of Russia, issued 7,092 nonimmigrant visas. In total, the United States granted close to 190,000 visas in its embassies and consulates in Russia in 2016.