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BBC Monitoring
Russian tourists face hard times at US embassy with visa regulations toughened
Source: NTV, Moscow, in Russian 0400 gmt 21 Jul 03

Today's Russian papers comment on the new rules for applying for US visas. Last Friday [18 July] the US embassy in Moscow officially announced the tightening up of rules for Russian residents to receive a visa. The Kommersant newspaper says that the innovation will do away with the few Russian tourists travelling to the USA there have been so far.

Apart from that, residents of Russia's provinces will find it twice as hard to go to the USA. There are four US consulates working in Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. This why a resident of Rostov-na-Donu or Samara will have to go to Moscow first to attend an interview. The main changes will be introduced as of 1 August. Practically all those who have applied for visas will have to hand their documents in person and attend an interview at the consulate.

However, as of 22 July photo and application form requirements will be toughened. The photograph should be 5 cm by 5 cm in size and without a frame. Moreover, it should be a full-face photo, taken within the previous six months. The applicant's head, namely his face and hair, should be seen in full, from the top of the head to the chin.

The Gazeta newspaper adds that as of 1 January 2004 applicants for a US visa should have their finger-prints taken. The organization of every applicant having their finger-prints taken will cause additional expenses, the paper says, which in turn will result in a US visa becoming more expensive.

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