U.S. Embassy Moscow recently announced plans to reduce its consular workforce by 75 percent and significantly reduce its consular services. The announcement comes in response to the Russian government’s move to ban the U.S. Embassy “from employing foreign nationals in any capacity,” actions taken in retaliation to new U.S. sanctions imposed over Russia’s alleged interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and the country’s involvement in the computer hack of top U.S. government agencies.

Effective May 12, 2021, U.S. Embassy Moscow will provide only emergency U.S. citizen services and a very limited number of immigrant visa services for age-out cases and life or death emergencies. U.S. Embassy Moscow will no longer offer nonimmigrant visa processing for nondiplomatic travel, and will cease “routine notarial services, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, [and] renewal passport services.”

Residents in Russia who require a new U.S. passport to remain legally present, or who require emergency services based on a life or death emergency, may contact U.S. Embassy Moscow via email.

U.S. Embassy Moscow “strongly urge[s]” U.S. citizens present in Russia with an expired visa to leave the country prior to June 15, 2021—the deadline set by the Russian government—or visit a local Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) office to initiate any required processes to stay in Russia.

Employers and foreign nationals who are impacted by this new policy may wish to consider alternative options available to Russian nationals seeking U.S. visa services, including alternative processes to obtain employer-sponsored work visas and/or tourist visas.

Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will monitor developments with respect to these and other policy changes and will post updates on the firm’s Immigration blog as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.