Just days ago, the Russian Supreme Court issued a letter providing guidance to regional courts. The letter clarifies that families that have had their preliminary court date prior to January 1, 2013 will be able to assume physical custody and obtain the necessary documents from Russian authorities to exit the country. This will be the case even if the 30 day waiting period expired after January 1, 2013. To date, 25 families have obtained visas to leave the country and some have travelled home with their children.
At the same time, other families in-country have experienced delays and have been unable to obtain necessary paperwork from Russian authorities. It is hoped that the Russian Supreme Court letter will help families move forward. Families who fall into this category should contact the U.S. Embassy in Russia, if they have not already done so. They should also keep in close contact with their adoption service providers who are still permitted to process these transition cases and who have more real-time information.
The Department of State announced that a “historic” U.S.-Russia visa agreement entered into force on September 9, 2012. The agreement facilitates travel between the two countries and “enables us to strengthen ties between our people by benefiting the largest segments of travelers in both our countries – business travelers and tourists,” the Department said in a statement. Among other benefits, the agreement provides for longer visa validity.
Nearly 159,000 business and tourism visas were issued in fiscal year 2011 to Russian citizens. Over 75,000 U.S. citizens travel to Russia annually, the majority of whom require Russian visas. The agreement includes these key provisions:
Three-year, multiple-entry visas will be issued as the standard “default” visa for U.S. citizens visiting Russia and Russian citizens visiting the United States;
Diplomatic and official visa holders on temporary assignments will receive one-year, multiple-entry visas;
The documentation required will be reduced. For example, the Russian government will no longer require U.S. citizens to provide formal, “registered” invitation letters when applying for Russian business visas or visas for private visits, although applicants seeking Russian tourist visas must continue to hold advance lodging reservations and arrangements with a tour operator;
Both sides have committed to keeping standard visa processing times under 15 days, although the circumstances of individual cases may require additional processing; and
The $100 issuance (reciprocity) fee for Russians issued U.S. visas for business or tourism (B-1/B-2) will decrease to $20.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently announced an agreement on the issuance of non-immigrant business, tourist, private and humanitarian visas to the Russian Federation, and for business and tourist visas to the United States, as well as short-term official travel visas to both counties.
This agreement will facilitate travel between our two countries and establish stronger ties between our people. The agreement benefits the largest segments of our traveling Americans and Russians – business travelers and tourists, traveling both as individuals and in groups, by granting as a rule, on a reciprocal basis, multiple-entry visas valid for 36 months.
The agreement also streamlines the visa issuance process by reducing the documentation required. These new visa validity periods will allow for expanded contacts and promote greater mutual understanding [...]. This agreement will go into effect after an exchange of diplomatic notes in Moscow.