US - Russia Visa Agreement to be Inked This Year
Officials of the US embassy hope the long-awaited visa agreement between Russia and US would get approval before Christmas this year.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov exchanged diplomatic notes with the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After the agreement gets inked, it would have to wait a while until Russia’s State parliament ‘Duma’ is voted into office. Once approved by ‘Duma’ the two governments are likely to exchange a second set of notes confirming their internal procedures. The agreement will then come into force in the next 30 days.
The roots of the agreement were paved earlier this year when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed scrapping of visa restrictions between the two countries in a bid to end all the cold war era baggage. The chances of a Visa agreement between the two giant nations got a boost once again when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to liberalize visa restrictions for businessmen and tourists traveling between the two countries.
Current Status: Although the officials of both countries admit that two countries still had to agree on some separate legal issues, but were hopeful of achieving a common agreement acceptable to both nations. According to agreement, eligible Russian business travelers and tourists will be granted a visa US valid for 36 months at a unified and reciprocal fee while government officials will also be qualified to receive 12-month multi-entry visa. The agreement also has a clause that would streamline and quicken the visa issuance process by reducing the documentations.
Benefits: The business community of both nations has also expressed happiness on the issue saying that the introduction of the new visa validity periods will not only allow for expanded contacts but also promote greater mutual understanding and trade between the two nations.
The visa agreement between USA and Russia would not act as a binding document but can have far reaching effects that can promote friendship between the once bitter rivals. The government of both countries in the past have suggested that the new visa agreement would only be the first step and are hoping that the signing of this agreement would open the path to eliminating visas altogether between Russia and the United States. The government of Russia is also discussing the possibilities of a similar agreement with the European Union nations.