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U.S. Visas Are Eluding Russians

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

Where should they apply for U.S. visas? Italy?

It's really hard for Russians to get any type of U.S. visa now, especially a Tourist Visa. Why? Russians who left their homeland after the outbreak of the Ukrainian war are not easily able to convince a U.S. consular officer that they will ultimately return to Russia: which is a requirement for a U.S. Tourist Visa under INA 214(b).

So where should Russians apply? It's true that the U.S. Consulate in Poland was tasked with handling Russian applications, but it's currently hard for Russians to obtain Schengen visas and enter Poland. For them to apply elsewhere, the particular U.S. consulate would have to be accepting "TCN" (Third Country National) applications. Additionally, if processing takes several months, the applicants may have to remain in the foreign country for the entire processing time.

So again, where to go? Kazakhstan? Belgrade? Those aren't realistic choices for visa issuance. Russians who can access a U.S. consulate in other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) can try applying there, e.g. Armenia, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan. Turkey is also an option (as are Italy and Germany, but Russians need to show a reason to be in those countries). U.S. consulates in Brazil have also been issuing visas to Russians.

Not only are U.S. Tourist Visas difficult for Russians to obtain now, even normally obtainable employment nonimmigrant visas, such as O-1 visas, have been sent for an additional level of scrutiny by the U.S. Department of State, i.e. "Administrative Processing". Depending on a person's circumstances, it may be worth applying for Humanitarian Parole if a genuine argument can be made for the award of such relief. Russians who need assistance with obtaining U.S. visas have a complex labyrinth of issues to navigate right now. Lawyers will continue to update their recommendations as U.S. consulates fine tune their policies.

Photo by Dan Novac on Unsplash

A view of an uban Italian coastline with passenger boats and surrounding buildings



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