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Adopting from Russia - Embassy Procedures

New Procedures for Applying for U.S. Immigrant Visas for Orphans Adopted by American Citizens.

On December 1, 2000, the American Embassy in Moscow will begin processing immigrant visa applications for Russian and other orphans adopted by American parents in a new way. The new arrangement not only includes a number of procedural changes, but several important policy changes. Most obvious is the change in location: orphan visa interviews will be conducted in the Spoede Building, located on the Embassy compound, beginning on December 1.

We are making these changes because we remain committed to our practice of same-day visa issuance. We are also aware of how difficult it is to gain entry to the Consular Section of the Embassy, and how inadequate its waiting room facilities are. In addition, as we are moving into the coldest part of the winter, we would like to spare the children from waiting in inclement and sometimes severe weather. These new procedures address these issues. We expect the new procedures will provide better, more efficient service to our most important clients, American citizens and their recently adopted children.

Important Changes

Starting on December 1, the American Embassy requests that American parents or their adoption agency representatives submit applications for orphan visas each day starting at 9:30 a.m. rather than 10:30. The visa interviews themselves, at which time the consular officers must see the children, will be conducted in the afternoon, between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. instead of in the morning.

Provided that the document packages are complete, we will schedule the visa interviews for the same day. If the family prefers, the adoption agency representatives are welcome to submit the documents and schedule an appointment in advance. However, the appointment will only be given if the document package is complete.

Unless the American parents have conducted their adoption without the assistance of an adoption agency, there is no need for them to appear at the Embassy in the morning to submit the documents. In fact, we prefer that the family not appear, in order to reduce the number of people using the entrance to the Consular Section. There is no benefit to the adopting family for them to appear, and we have asked for the assistance of agency representatives in this matter.

If the family has conducted an independent adoption, only one member of the family needs to appear in the morning to present the documentation. We request that the adopted children and other members of the family remain in the hotel until the afternoon appointment.

Interview appointments are made on a first come, first served basis for those whose documents are complete and in order. We also encourage agency representatives to utilize the full document intake period, instead of arriving early to try to get an early interview, since anyone interviewed in the afternoon whose visas are approved will receive their visa that same day. Under no circumstances will intake begin before 9:30 a.m.

Because of U.S. Embassy security rules and space constraints, only American citizens and their adopted children will be allowed to enter the Embassy compound for the immigrant visa interview. Adoption agency representatives will not be granted access under any circumstances.

If the consular officer approves the immigrant visa, it will be handed to the parents directly after their interview. This eliminates the need for the parents or their agency representative to return to the Embassy to collect it.

Visa Application Step By Step

Morning: Presentation of Documents

Afternoon: Visa Interviews

The restrooms are located down the hall and to the right side of the hallway.

We Need Your Assistance

Please remember that the Spoede Building is an office building and be considerate of the employees working there. There will be people with other business wishing to enter the Spoede Building at the same time the adopting families are arriving for their interviews. Entry will be granted on a first come, first served basis.

A number of Americans often carry cell phones, cameras and other electronic devices. Since these items are not allowed in the Embassy, this has caused lengthy security screening in the Consular Section. We ask that you either leave such articles at the place where you are staying, or with the driver, in order to facilitate entry to the Spoede Building. If you prefer to bring these items with you, we ask that they be readily available, to minimize the delays while they are located.

Since we are trying to limit crowding at the Embassy and the number of trips American families need to make to the Embassy connected with the immigrant visa application, we ask that you obtain the required photographs elsewhere. There are numerous "instant photo" installments near the Embassy and throughout Moscow.

Please be aware that Embassy guards are not trained in immigrant visa procedures and may not be able to answer questions about immigrant visa requirements in general, or individual visa cases.

Since the officers and staff will be reviewing the case files and processing the visas in advance of the interview, we will not schedule interviews in advance of 2 P.M. Similarly, we will adhere to the interview schedule. We routinely tell prospective adopting parents to plan on spending two nights and three days in Moscow to complete the immigrant visa application. We also advise against purchasing airline tickets until the immigrant visa has been issued. In order to accommodate all applicants fairly and efficiently, we may not interrupt our processing to handle individual cases in an exceptional manner.

Contact Information

We understand that, during the period of transition from the old to the new processing procedures, there will be many questions. For further information, you are welcome to access information on the Embassy's website.

We also welcome e-mail inquiries at the following address:

The Public Liaison Unit can also be reached at:

095 728-5599 from 2:00-4:00 p.m.
095 728-5000 ext. 4635 from 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

The information line for orphan visas in the Immigrant Visa Unit is: 728-5058

The fax line in the Immigrant Visa Unit is: 8-5247

Marjorie Ames is the Immigrant Visa Unit chief. You are welcome to direct inquiries to her at

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