Ask the Consul – March 2021

Question:

When will regular visa appointments resume? Which services are currently offered at the U.S. Embassy?

 

Answer:

With the rescission of Presidential Proclamation 10014, the Immigrant Visa Unit is resuming processing of all types of Immigrant Visa cases. Any backlog cases that experienced delayed processing because of the proclamation and/or pandemic-reduced scheduling will be scheduled starting this month and throughout the spring and summer until cases are brought current. Remember that for immigrant visa cases, the officers require original documents, so be sure to bring the original documents when you appear for your interview.

The American Citizen Services Unit continues to offer daily services in order to process adult passport applications, both by appointment, but now also through renewal applications submitted by mail. Details on the renewal-by-mail process are available on the website: tt.usembassy.gov. Routine appointments for consular reports of birth abroad (CRBAs) and notarial services are also offered.

Host-country COVID-19 restrictions and requirements, including the closure of borders and limits on the number of people that can gather at one time, mean that Nonimmigrant Visas cannot return to normal operations. However, recognizing that some applicants have urgent need for travel to the United States, applicants may still apply for visas and request expedited appointment processing. This also applies to those seeking work or student visas.

All applicants must fill out the application form, pay the visa application fee, schedule the first-available appointment (even if it is after your date of travel), and then request an expedited appointment through the visa appointment system. Be sure to thoroughly explain the reason for your request. A consular official will review the expedite request and notify the applicant if the request has been approved or denied.

Importantly, the Embassy continues to process interview-waived applications as this eliminates the need to appear in person at the Embassy. The U.S. Embassy therefore encourages applicants under age 14 and over age 79 to apply for age-based, interview-waived cases.

Equally, visa-holders who want to renew a valid or expired visa should also feel free to apply if they think they meet the qualifying criteria, especially if the previous visa expired less than 24 months ago. The 24-month expiration window to qualify for a waived interview is effective through March 31, 2021, after which it becomes a 12-month window.

One very important note: Unlike immigrant visa applicants, non-immigrant visa applicants are reminded to send only photocopies – and not originals – unless instructed otherwise by an officer – because only the passports will be returned. Persons who are not eligible for a waived interview will be directed to the appointment system, but if you are worried about the lack of available appointments, know that the validity of your payment (known as the MRV fee) has been extended until September 30, 2022.

We encourage applicants to visit the Information and Appointment Website: https://ais.usvisa-info.com/ for updates on services. Email inquiries can be sent to consularpos@state.gov.