Department of State Announces Phased Resumption of Certain Visa Services
In March 2020, the DOS suspended routine visa services worldwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. embassies and consulates have continued to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services since that time. On November 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced that U.S. embassies and consulates will begin providing additional services, eventually leading to a complete resumption of routine visa services. The State Department has announced that the resumption of routine visa services will occur on a post-by-post basis, as post-specific conditions permit, and prioritized after services to U.S. citizens.
Consulates and Embassies will phase in the processing of some routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa cases. Specifically, foreign nationals should be aware of the following:
- Posts processing non-immigrant visa applications will continue to prioritize travelers with urgent travel needs, foreign diplomats, and certain mission-critical categories of travelers such as those coming to assist with the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by students (F-1, M-1, and certain J-1) and temporary employment visas (consistent with Presidential Proclamation 10052).
- Applicants with urgent travel needs can continue to request emergency appointments.
- Posts that process immigrant visa applications will prioritize “Immediate Relative” family members of U.S. citizens including inter-country adoptions (consistent with Presidential Proclamation 10014), fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens, and certain Special Immigrant Visa applications.
We do not expect complete resumption of routine visa services to take place soon and it continues to be advisable for foreign nationals to remain in the U.S. and avoid international travel, whenever possible. This will help ensure that nonimmigrant visa holders and their dependents avoid the risk of being unable to return to the U.S. should there be any unexpected changes to current travel restrictions. Foreign nationals requiring visa services should monitor their local U.S. Embassy or Consulate for updates.