Due to the ongoing violence in Israel, Gaza, and Southern Lebanon/Syria, the U.S. Embassy in Israel announced today that it has suspended visa services for both immigrant and nonimmigrant processes. In so doing, the Embassy advised that anyone needing visa services may apply at other U.S. Consulates around the world, at which time they may request expedited interviews that will be considered on a case-by-case basis. As of right now, the U.S. government has not announced any further accommodations for those impacted by the fighting that began almost 1 week ago, and we will update our readers as soon as we receive any updates on that topic.
One related bit of news is that as of November 30, 2023, Israel will begin participating in the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”). This move means that Israeli Citizens will no longer have to apply for B-1/B-2 Visas at a U.S. Consulate to enter the United States as Visitors for Business/Pleasure. Instead, qualified Israeli Citizens will be able to apply online for Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”), a process that can take a matter of minutes, and enter the United States in B-1/B-2 status for up-to-90-days at a time. Importantly, ESTA travelers are not eligible to extend their stay in the United States or change to another nonimmigrant classification without leaving the country.
The U.S. Department of States has not indicated whether it plans to delay or otherwise amend its introduction of Israel into the VWP based on current events. Please keep an eye on our Blog, E-Alerts, other communications on how the continued fighting may impact this topic and other immigration-related issues. And of course, if you have any questions regarding how the present situation in the Middle East impacts you, your work, and/or your family, please do not hesitate to contact our office.