U.S. Imposes a New Visa Regulation

Starting this week, Russian males aged 16 to 45 applying for nonimmigrant visas to the United States must answer almost twice as many questions as before in a new effort by the United States to sniff out terrorists.

As of Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy is not accepting nonimmigrant visa applications unless they are accompanied by a supplemental form, DS-157, that is being required of applicants worldwide, U.S. Consul General Jim Warlick said in a telephone interview Thursday.

The visas are issued for temporary tourism, study or employment.

In the new form, applicants must list all the countries they have visited in the previous 10 years; all the professional, social and charitable organizations to which they belong or have belonged; whether they have any specialized skills or training in firearms or explosives; the names of the countries in whose militaries they have served; and whether they have been in an armed conflict.

Those who have already submitted applications and are awaiting approval will not be required to fill out the new form, Warlick said. The new rule also does not apply to women.

The U.S. State Department instituted the new form with the "ultimate goal of keeping potential terrorists out of the United States," Warlick said.

However, it remains unclear how the forms will be evaluated. A State Department memo sent to all consular posts Jan. 2 said the form is an interim measure that will allow the posts to elicit information "which, in some cases, will lead to a security advisory opinion."

The U.S. Embassy sends security advisory opinions to the State Department on applicants whom consular officers believe may pose a threat to the United States, Warlick said. Most are for applicants who have been convicted of a felony or imprisoned or are connected to a terrorist organization or to organized crime, he said.

The form is now available in the four designated Federal Express offices in Moscow where people can pick up and submit nonimmigrant visa applications.

For security reasons, applicants have been prohibited from applying at the embassy in person since Oct. 11.

Warlick says the embassy is working to disseminate the form at other locations, including travel agencies and the Foreign Ministry.