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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Embassy: New Visa Rules Won't Hurt Russian Tourists

The United States announced proposed new visa rules designed to keep out terrorists, but most Russians will not find it any more difficult to get a U.S. visa than they do now, officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service said Monday that one proposal would allow immigration officials to determine how long a tourist can stay in the country. Instead of automatically admitting tourists for six months, they would admit them for "a period of time that is fair and reasonable for the completion of the purpose of the visit," the INS said. If the time period cannot be determined, the INS would grant a 30-day period of admission.

Jacqueline McKennan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, said in a written reply to questions that the INS plan to allow immigration officials to make this determination after questioning visitors upon arrival would be unlikely to cause a big change.

"Applicants are expected to answer those questions on their visa application," she said. "If they are being truthful, they should certainly not have a problem at the port of entry."

The INS also proposed prohibiting foreigners from studying in the United States unless they have been approved for a student visa. McKennan said this would affect few Russians.

David Patton, regional director for the American Councils for International Education, agreed. "We do our selection almost a full academic year prior to departure and in some cases six months before departure," he said in a telephone interview.

In the past several years, 1,500 to 1,750 Russians have received student visas each year, McKennan said. The overall number of visa applications per day in Moscow is about 400. "After Sept. 11, the average dropped to 200, but is now climbing to normal levels," she added.

All 19 hijackers who participated in the Sept. 11 attacks were in the United States legally, most on tourist visas.