On July 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced that U.S. consulates and embassies around the world have begun a phased resumption of routine visa services. The Department of State did not provide a specific timeline for the resumption of routine visa services, stating instead that the schedule will depend on local conditions at each consular post.
Below is a list of key points regarding the resumption of consular services:
- A number of presidential proclamations remain in effect that may affect travel plans and/or visa issuance, even as consular posts resume services. These include:
- the suspension of consular issuance of immigrant visas;
- the suspension of entry into the United States on select nonimmigrant visas (i.e., H-1B, H-2B, J-1, and L-1 visa holders and their dependents);
- the suspension of entry of foreign nationals from the United Kingdom and Ireland;
- the suspension of entry of foreign nations from the 26 Schengen countries;
- the suspension of entry of foreign nationals from China;
- the suspension of entry of foreign nationals from Iran; and
- the suspension of entry of foreign nationals from Brazil.
- Travelers can look up specific information about the reopening status and services available at each consular post on the Department of State’s website.
- The volume and type of visa cases processed at each post may vary.
- Consular posts will continue to add services as local conditions improve and “when adequate resources are available.”
- In an effort to maintain social distancing, consular posts will schedule fewer appointments at the same time and limit the number of people in their waiting areas.
- For individuals with interviews scheduled prior to the close of the consular posts in March 2020, the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee paid to set the appointment will remain valid and “may be used to schedule a [new] visa appointment in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment.”
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will monitor developments with respect to these and other policy changes and will post updates on the Immigration blog and in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar programs.