Russians to face problems with U.S. visas until relations normalise – AmCham
Russians will face problems getting U.S. visas until bilateral relations between the two countries are normalised, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia (AmCham), Alexis Rodzianko has said.
The U.S. embassy in Russia announced that non-migration visa processing would be suspended on Wednesday.
The embassy said Moscow’s requirement to cut its staff to 455 diplomats and technical personnel would also affect “the scheduling of a limited number of migration visa applications.”
“So long as the number of [diplomatic] staff remains reduced, the embassy does not see how its capacity can be boosted, that is why that is more a question of normalising relations,” Rodzianko told Sputnik.
He pointed out that the situation would not change the percentage of visa denials as it was related to the technical issue of organising interviews for visa applicants.
“The requirement of interviews for getting visas was introduced before the decision on reducing the staff of the US diplomatic mission.
“That is an unplanned effect of the [Russian] decision rather than a political issue,” Rodzianko added.
In late July, Moscow announced that the diplomatic presence of the U.S. in Russia would be cut by 755 people to 455, the same number of diplomatic personnel that Russia currently has in the U.S.
The Kremlin said it was a response to new US anti-Russian sanctions.
Russia said it will respond in kind to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and consulates in the country limiting their visa operations as they prepare for staff cuts by Sept. 1, a senior Russian senator told Sputnik on Monday.
“This is of course a demarche. We cannot stay in debt. Everything here is obviously going to be mirrored,”
Andrei Klimov, the head of the commission on state sovereignty protection of the Russian Federation Council, said.
Klimov was responding to the U.S. embassy’s announcement earlier in the day that non-immigrant visa processing would be suspended on Wednesday.
The embassy said Moscow’s requirement to cut its staff to 455 diplomats and technical personnel would also affect “the scheduling of a limited number of immigrant visa applications.”
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.
“We cannot refund fees that have been paid. However, the fee is valid for one year from the date of the payment,” the embassy said in a fact sheet accompanying its statement.
“Visa fees are not transferrable outside the country in which the fee was paid.
“If you wish to apply outside Russia, you would need to begin a new application and pay the fee according to that location’s instructions,” the embassy added.
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