Starting Tuesday the US Embassy in Russia will use new forms of applications for entry visas
The press-release of the Embassy says that from now on all Russians wishing to get an American visa must hand in two applications. One of them may be a copy of the original, but the signatures on both copies must be original.
It is said that all spaces in the application form must be filled with the type font. The rest of the requirements concerning official documents for submission to the Embassy remain the same.
In addition, starting with July 22, 2003 new requirements are introduced concerning a photo attached to the application for the entry visa. This is to be an unframed full face photo made within the last six months. The press-release specifies that an applicant must look directly in the camera on the photo, not aside or downward.
The press-release emphasizes that the face of an applicant must make up about 50 per cent of the photo so that the head and the hair could be seen completely; at that it is desirable that the ears could be seen as well.
The US Embassy says the new changes have been introduced for better security of the American citizens and guests of the country. "This is not an intention to make the procedure of entry in the USA more complicated."
In addition, according to the new rules starting with August 1, 2003 almost all applicants for non-immigration visas will have to personally come for an interview with Consulate officials. The US Embassy in Moscow recommends to hand in an application for a visa 6-8 weeks before a supposed departure.
A visa can be given to people under 16 and over 60 without an interview; no interview is also required for applicants for diplomatic or business visas, to those who apply for a visa of the same category that the previously given one, on condition if a new visa is given within a year after the termination of the previous visa. However, Consulate officials still may invite any applicant for an interview.
An official spokesperson for the Russian Federation Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko regrets the procedure of granting entry visas has been toughened; he adds that the Russian side hopes to get more explanations on the problem. He told journalists that "the visa issue is still the most problematic factor in the Russian-American consular relations." Alexander Yakovenko says that Russian consular services get many complaints about excessively tough visa regime in the USA from Russians. Applications for entry visas are considered within a long period of time which frustrates the departure dates. There are also many rejections of visas.