Visa rules hamper Russian holidays

August 15, 2003

Delays in issuing visas at the US embassy in Moscow have ruined the plans of hundreds of Russian students who wanted to spend the summer working and travelling in America.

Stringent new application rules and earlier deadlines introduced along with anti-terrorism measures after the September 11 attacks two years ago mean that hundreds of undergraduates whose applications were not processed by a mid-July cut-off point will not be issued visas.

The embassy decision in effect means that disappointed applicants will be prevented from travelling outside Russia during their summer break - their passports would not be returned earlier than late August, work-exchange programme officials said.

The US embassy in Moscow, which had projected an increase in summer-work approvals this year to 10,000, compared with last year's 8,000, may now grant approvals only for some 7,000.

The US embassy, which works with 24 accredited exchange agencies, brought forward the deadline for making summer work applications to April 1 this year to allow officials more time to carry out the checks.

But none of the agencies met the deadline, claiming that US companies rarely began recruiting summer interns before January, leaving little time for transatlantic agreements to be reached.

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