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Issuance of nonimmigrant visas suspended in Russia

Florida residents may recall that in July, Congress approved sanctions against Russia in retaliation for allegedly interfering with the presidential election in the United States. In return, Russia reduced the U.S. embassy and consulate staff by 755 employees. This left roughly one-third of the staff in place. The U.S. response was to temporarily shut down the issuance of nonimmigrant visas in Russia.

The shutdown started on Aug. 23 and will last for eight days. It applies to visas for investors, intracompany transferees and skilled workers. It also applies to people seeking H-1B visas and L1 visas. On Sept. 1, visa interviews will begin again but only in Moscow. Until further notice, there will be no visa interviews in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg or Vladivostok. It is necessary to make nonimmigrant visa appointments in Moscow, and appointments for foreign nationals may have been canceled. It is anticipated that wait times for work visas will grow to five months or longer from two months.

To schedule a visa appointment outside of the country, it will be necessary to start the process over again including paying the fees again. Student applicants may benefit from a block of appointments offered to them in September 2017, but this block will delay the process for other types of visas.

Russian nationals who are already in the United States on a visa and who anticipate needing to renew the visa may want to talk to an attorney about what steps they should take. Overall, visas for people from any country may be more difficult to obtain, and some other immigration programs may have been canceled or may be in danger of cancellation. People who are uncertain about their immigration status or who are in the process of applying for a visa, permanent residence or naturalization may also want to consult an attorney.

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