The US State Department has announced the reopening of US consulates and embassies. While this is still dependent upon local pandemic conditions and shelter-in-place guidelines, routine visa services are said to resume in most locations.
A phased approach adopted in these US consulates signifies that applicants should still refer to each individual website for local updates and contact them directly to confirm date availability and rescheduled appointments. Walk-ins are still discouraged at this point of time.
What To Expect As US Consulates Reopen
- It’s a phased reopening. So, while routine visa services are expected to resume, there is a backlog of cases. This may result in longer processing and wait times.
- While the directive to reopen has been announced the local conditions and its rules will prevail. If the local Covid lockdown is still in place, that individual US consulate might not reopen immediately.
- Biometric appointments will resume. Applicants should expect a notification regarding their rescheduled appointments.
- Visa holders that were issued with a 221g, should expect to have it processed now. Please contact your local US consulate to inquire about rescheduling the appointment.
- Walk-ins are still not encouraged at this point. All applicants are advised to refer to the US consulate website to schedule their visa appointments.
- Depending upon the nature of each case, expedited appointments are available for emergency cases. These criteria include urgent medical care, death of a family member or repatriation of body of a close family relative for funeral purposes, urgent business travel and for students who have to return to resume school.
- All emergent visa appointees are expected to furnish evidentiary documentation to prove the urgency of their travel. Providing false or incomplete information will adversely affect the outcome of current and future visa applications.
- The MRV fee that was previously filed is still valid and can be used for a year from the date of purchase. However, it has to be used within the same country where it was purchased.
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Important To Know As US Consulates Reopen
While routine visa processes are resuming (dependent upon local pandemic conditions) in most locations for US embassies and consulates, there are exceptions to what will and will not be processed. This is with reference to the executive order and entry bans instituted by the US government against certain categories of immigrant and non-immigrant visas.
Travel Entry Ban
While foreign students and au pairs on J1 visas as well as some dependents of visa holders from Europe are allowed to enter the US, most foreign nationals and travelers from the following countries are not permitted to enter the United States until further notice –
- The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe;
- The Republic of Ireland;
- The 26 countries that comprise the Schengen Area
- The Islamic Republic of Iran;
- The People’s Republic of China, not including the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau
Green card applicants who were outside the US as of April 22, 2020 are not allowed to enter the US until December 31, 2020. Those holding valid visa and travel papers will not be impacted by this executive order.
Proclamation of June 22, 2020
This proclamation signed by President Trump suspends entry of nonimmigrant visa holders in the following categories: H-1B, H-2B, J and L visas, along with their spouses and children. This is effective until December 31, 2020.