US Embassy in Russia to reduce number of consular services: Ifax

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The US embassy in Moscow said on Friday it would reduce the number of consular services it provides from May 12 after Russia imposed restrictions on the hiring of local staff.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin last week signed a law to limit the number of local staff working at foreign diplomatic missions and other agencies, and ordered the government to draw up a list of “unfriendly” states that will be subject to the restrictions.

Russia-US ties are at a post-Cold War low.

“Effective May 12, US Embassy Moscow will reduce consular services offered to include only emergency US citizen services and a very limited number of age-out and life or death emergency immigrant visas,” the embassy said in a statement.

“Non-immigrant visa processing for non-diplomatic travel will cease.”

The embassy said the Russian government’s actions had forced it to reduce its consular work force by 75 percent and that the provision of emergency services in Russia may be delayed or limited because the ability of staff to travel outside Russia had been constrained.

It also urged US citizens in Russia to heed a June 15 deadline set by the Russian government when a temporary extension to visas, residence permits and immigration documents expires.

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