The U.S. Embassy and consulates in Russia have announced serious curtailment in visa services as a result of the escalating diplomatic tensions and as a result of the recent Russian order for drastic reduction of allowable U.S. diplomatic and support staff in Russia. https://ru.usembassy.gov/fact-sheet/. According to the announcement, all visa services are suspended in Russia from August 23 until September 1, and then thereafter will resume on a drastically more limited basis with visa services available only through the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
Visa applicants in Russia should expect significant delays in processing and should consult the U.S. Embassy website for specific information. Employers should be aware that this will likely cause a delay in visa issuance for new employees that they may wish to sponsor. Hiring and onboarding timelines and expectations may need to be adjusted to accommodate the extended visa processing times.
Planning for visa renewals for employees and their families who are already in the U.S. will also become more complicated and inconvenient as a result of the reduction in services. It is important to keep in mind that persons holding status (H-1B, L-1, etc.) in the U.S. do not necessarily need to have a valid visa stamp at all time, as long as their status (as shown on the I-94 document) is valid. There are procedures available to extend their stay from within the U.S. A valid visa is only required to re-enter the U.S. after international travel.
Although only nonimmigrant visa operations are being suspended, the reduction in staff will affect some immigrant visa applications. Affected applicants will be contacted if their interviews need to be rescheduled.
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Finnan, Fleischut & Associates will continue to keep our clients advised of important developments in this area. If you have specific questions about how these developments affect a current or possible future situation, please contact us.