Russian citizens are facing significant delays with Schengen visa applications after diplomatic expulsions left European embassies in the Russian capital short-staffed.
In addition, limited appointment slots are available at the majority of embassy centers, with all visa center slots in Greece, France and Spain being full for this month, according to visa agencies. trips surveyed by RBC, reports SchengenVisaInfo.com.
The case raised concerns from Russian tourism agencies that European visa centers have a limited number of staff to process documents for Russian citizens.
Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine led authorities in European countries to impose severe sanctions on Russia in response to the war in Ukraine.
Until now, several Schengen countries, including the Czech Republic, Latvia and Estonia, prohibited the issuance of tourist visas to Russian citizens.
Russian authorities have also taken similar action against countries that have imposed sanctions on them.
Previously, Russia had expelled eight Greek diplomats for what it called the latter’s “showdown” to Moscow.
Additionally, in May, the Russian Foreign Ministry expelled dozens of French and Spanish diplomats in “retaliation” for similar expulsions of Russian diplomats following the invasion of Ukraine.
The Greece Visa Application Center also announced on its website that the Consulate General of Greece in Moscow is experiencing a temporary shortage of visa processing staff. As a result, there may be delays in visa applications and passport returns.
In addition, the director of a Russian travel agency, Lilia Feoktistova, said that the Spanish visa center in Russia offers only about 500-600 meeting places per day.
The Netherlands also stopped issuing visas to Russians, except for humanitarian visas and temporary residence permits, after deporting Russian diplomats.
Poland is another country that also wants Schengen countries to stop issuing visas to Russians for short stays in the 26 Schengen countries due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
However, it was reported that even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the number of Schengen visas lodged at the embassies of Schengen countries in Russia had decreased.
According to data from the European Union, before the spread of the Coronavirus, Russians were granted around four million Schengen visas, around a quarter of all Schengen visas issued worldwide, while in 2020 the number of Schengen visa applications submitted to the embassies and consulates of Schengen countries in Russia had registered a dizzying drop of 84% compared to 2019 figures.