As our Australian clients are acutely aware, between limited, expensive, and frequently-cancelled-flights to the financial and psychological toll of a mandatory 2-week-quarantine on their own dime (which has been shortened as of late), to even requiring permission to leave the country again, returning Down Under over the past 21 months has been tough to say the least. However, once landed and released back into the world, Australian Citizens have usually benefitted from shorter wait-times for in-person Visa Appointments. Even as slots have vanished over the past few months with the U.S. Consulate in Sydney’s move, Australian Citizens have had the extra option of mailing-in Visa Applications for renewals once they are in the country, so long as they satisfy a list of requirements including but not limited to applying for the same classification of a visa that expired within the defined period of time.

For much of 2021, the U.S. Consulates in Australia (and, as of late, the Post in Melbourne which has handled all mail-ins) have extended that period from 12 months to 48 months. Therefore, an individual who met all the other criteria (such as having been ten-printed, never having been denied a visa, required a waiver to get a visa, etc.) could leverage the mail-in option, even if their prior visa expired as far back as 2017.

However, we have recently confirmed that as of January 1, 2022, the U.S. Consulate in Melbourne will return to its prior policy of only processing renewal applications for those visas that expired within the preceding 12 months. As such, if the visa is not issued on or before December 31, 2021, the 12-month limit will apply, and those that fall outside of that period will be required to appear for in-person interviews.

We continue to monitor the situation to verify whether the U.S. Consulate may prolong the 12-to-48-month extension due to the Omicron variant. But, for now, it does appear that once the clock hits 12 on January 1, 2022, all visas that expired before 2021 will be disqualified from mail-in renewal, and any others that expired more than 12 months prior will also require in-person processing.

If you have any questions regarding how this change may impact your future or pending visa application, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Author

  • Josh Rolf is a Senior Associate Attorney in the Firm’s Philadelphia office. Josh focuses his practice on various types of immigrant and nonimmigrant matters, including investor-based petitions.

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