US Embassy in Georgia welcomes Russians
The Embassy of the United States in Tbilisi issued a statement of readiness to start nonimmigrant visa application procedures for Russian citizens. Any citizen of Russia can arrive in Georgia (Russians do not visa to enter Georgia) and schedule an appointment for a visa in the consular department of the US Embassy. The waiting time for an interview after filling out an online questionnaire in Georgia does not exceed 8 days, while in US consulates in Russia, and even in Moscow, sometimes applicants wait for months to be called in for an interview.
The embassy's stressed that the consideration of visa applications for third-country nationals, including Russians, is a common practice for US diplomatic missions. A special indication of such a "practice" is a consequence of recent developments in Russian-US relations and problems relating to the issuance of visas to Russians. Thus, Washington is trying to demonstrate that, under the current circumstances, it is ready to use all the additional resources to at least alleviate the difficulties for Russians wishing to visit the United States for tourist, educational, medical or other personal purposes.
Whether it is a sincere desire to help or a diplomatic reminder of the root cause of the problems is another matter. But the fact remains that since the 1990s the US Embassy in Georgia has been one of the largest in terms of personnel in the Caucasus and even in the entire post-Soviet space. If it is ready to use its personnel reserves to consider additional applications, it will be an important help for those residents of the southern Russian regions, who feel more comfortable to travel to Tbilisi than to Moscow for an interview at the consulate.
For example, a resident of the North Caucasus, Stavropol or Krasnodar Territories, can arrive in Tbilisi by car or bus via the Georgian Military Road or fly by a low-cost carrier on the appointed day. The main advantage is time - it takes just over a week from the date the application was submitted to an interview in the consular department of the embassy.
However, there are fears that the time taken to review applications may increase (not only for Russians, but for citizens of Georgia as well) if there too many citizens of the Russian Federation wishing to obtain US visa. The number of employees of the US consulate, dealing with applications and interviews, is in the strictest confidence. In any case, Georgian journalists were not be able to make any progress in obtaining information from the embassy staff about the number of applications, which the diplomatic mission is able to consider for a certain period of time, within a month for example. These data are considered confidential. But since the State Department does not intend to increase the staff of its employees in Georgia, the number of employees in the consular department of the US embassy in Tbilisi is much less than in Moscow prior to well-known decisions.
In addition, the embassy stressed that in the first place it will consider applications filed by citizens of Georgia, not of third countries. Nevertheless, the opportunity to schedule an appointment in Georgia will help those who are in urgent need of a visa and ready to come to Tbilisi, despite transport and accommodation costs. But Georgia does not require visas, like some other neighboring states, for example Finland.
An application can be filled out online on the website of the US Embassy in Tbilisi. After the interview, a passport with a visa can be delivered to Russia by International Express Mail service in just two days.