Jul 15, 2020
U.S. Consulates Begin Phased Resumption of Visa Services
Joshua H. Rolf
- Limited resumption on consulate-by-consulate basis, depending on local conditions.
- No timetable for universal reopening, resumption of normal workload, or availability of all services.
- Travel restrictions and visa suspensions still in place.
Effective July 15, 2020, U.S. Consulates around the world will begin a phased resumption of routine, in-person visa services. Per the U.S. Department of State’s formal announcement, such resumptions “will occur on a post-by-post basis, in coordination with the Department’s Diplomacy Strong framework for returning [its] workforce to Department facilities.” Likewise, the Department of State advised that it cannot “provide a specific date for when each mission will resume specific visa services, or when each mission will return to processing at pre-Covid workload levels,” and therefore travelers must visit “each individual U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s website for information regarding operating status and which services it is currently offering.” After approximately four (4) months of providing limited, emergency services (and in limited circumstances, mail-in services), this limited resumption of routine, in-person services is a welcome development for travelers seeking immigrant and nonimmigrant visas abroad.
However, and as outlined above, it is essential to remember that not all Consulates will resume operations for all visa classifications on the same timeline. For example, even though the U.S. Consulate in Vienna announced it has reopened on a limited basis, its list of available visa classifications does not include O or P Visas, amongst others. Moreover, as routine visa services resume, current restrictions will remain in place: travelers who have recently been physically present in China, the UK/Ireland, much of continental Europe, Iran, and Brazil will still be barred from entering the United States unless they meet one of the exemptions enumerated in their specific Executive Orders. Moreover, while there has been a lawsuit filed challenging its application, the issuance of new H-1B/H-4, H-2B/H-4, J-1/J-2, L-1/L-2 Visas, has been suspended through December 31, 2020. Similarly, the issuance of most Immigrant Visas abroad also remains suspended through the rest of the year.
If you have any questions regarding if or how this development impacts your ability to process a visa at a U.S. Consulate outside the United States, please do not hesitate to call our office.