The U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia announced that effective May 12, 2021 the Embassy will significantly reduce its consular services to include only emergency U.S. citizen services and very limited number of age-out and life or death emergency immigrant visas. Non-immigrant visa processing for non-diplomatic travel will cease.
This announcement was made after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing the country to cap the number of local staff working at foreign diplomatic missions, or even to ban them entirely. President Putin additionally directed the Russian government to prepare a list of “unfriendly” countries that will be subject to those limitations, and unofficial reports indicate that United States is at the top of that list.
The U.S. Embassy indicated that it would reduce consular work force by 75%. The Embassy will not offer routine notarial services, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, or renewal passport services for U.S. Citizens in the foreseeable future. Provision of emergency services to U.S. Citizens in Russia may also be delayed or limited due to staff’s constrained ability to travel outside of Moscow. The embassy strongly urged any U.S. Citizens present in Russia with expired visas to depart before a June 15 deadline set by the Russian government.
Russian citizens in need of an U.S. visas will have to apply for visa at U.S. Embassies or Consulates in third countries. Eventually, the Department of State (DOS) will designate a third country where Russian citizens will be able to obtain visas. Although the Embassy in Warsaw, Poland did not officially confirm that they will process immigrant visas for Russian citizens, we have received reports of applicants for immigrant visas being able to transfer their visa appointments from Moscow to Warsaw. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates once available.
Contact an attorney at Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C. if you have questions about the impact of these changes on your pending or prospective case and to discuss your options.