US state department punishing ordinary Russian visa applicants over politics

The US has more than doubled its refusal rate of tourist visas sought by Russians

(Meduza) – The U.S. State Department published data revealing that American officials have increasingly been denying B1/B2 tourist visas to Russian citizens. The adjusted refusal rate for Russians in fiscal year 2017 was 11.61 percent — 1.25 percent higher than a year before. In 2009, the State Department denied just 4.9 percent of Russians’ tourist visa applications.

The refusal rate for Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and San Marino was 0 percent in 2017, while it was 100 percent in Western Sahara and the Federated State of Micronesia. Some of the other nationalities whose U.S. tourist visa requests are most rejected are Afghanistan (72.14 percent), Iraq (60.71 percent), Syria (59.11 percent), and Armenia (51.87 percent).

On September 1, the United States dramatically cut the size of its diplomatic staff in Russia, as demanded by the Foreign Ministry. For ordinary Russians, the direct consequence of the reduction has been a de facto tightening of the U.S. visa regime. People living far from Moscow can no longer get American visas at their nearest consulate, and applicants in the capital are waiting far longer than before. Many Russians now prefer to apply for U.S. visas in neighboring countries, and Meduza has learned that the American embassies just outside Russia are struggling to manage the new influx of eager travelers.

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