In addition to the San Francisco closure, State Department officials said the U.S. would scale back the Russian diplomatic presence in Washington and New York.
The consulate in San Francisco was a hub for Russians on the West Coast, with some flying in from as far away as Los Angeles and Phoenix to use it.

While Russians don’t need to interact with the consulate frequently, when they do, it is typically for pressing reasons: a passport renewal, a birth certificate request or a background check for police.

Getting an appointment at the Russian Consulate on Green Street was already a time-consuming process. When the San Francisco consulate closes, experts worry U.S.-Russia business relations will suffer as obtaining travel documents gets harder.

“If they were to renew a passport, they would have to wait three months just to get an appointment — but now it’s hard to predict what will happen,” said Andrei Romanenko, a Bay Area immigration attorney who frequently deals with Russian clients.

What’s worse, he said, are the wait times in Russia. Now that staffing in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has been significantly reduced, Romanenko said some of his clients are struggling to get their visas approved to enter the U.S.

And for students on an F-1 visa who need to start school in the next few weeks, and those on H-1B work visas who need to start their jobs in the U.S. soon, the clock is ticking.

Eugenia Kuyda, a Russian entrepreneur and co-founder of artificial intelligence messaging startup Luka, has many friends stuck in that line.

“It’s impossible to get anything done there,” she said. “It’s just disappointing where we are going. We grew up in Moscow when everything American was welcome … and now, all of a sudden, instead of going forward, we’re going backward.”

Trisha Thadani is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @TrishaThadani