Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the United States is suspending services by their embassy and consulates in more than 100 countries. In an effort to reduce the transmission of the virus and protect the citizens and residents of the United States, each embassy and their consulates in many countries have suspended routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services starting March 18, 2020, and this will continue until further notice.
If you are unsure of whether or not the embassy and consulates near you have suspended services or not, visit www.usembassy.gov to check and see if the embassy and consulate services have been suspended for a certain country.
UPDATE: On April 23, 2020, President Donald Trump signed an executive order a 60-day “pause” on the issuance of green cards for 60 days. He describes the order as an effort to protect Americans from competition from foreign workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Embassy and Consulate Services Affected by COVID-19
The U.S. embassy and consulates in many countries have officially suspended all routine immigration services, and will instead focus on providing essential consular services to U.S. citizens as well as emergency visa services. This means that besides emergency visa services and requests, all services for those wishing to immigrate to the United States are currently postponed for the foreseeable future.
Immigration Services Still Available to American Citizens During COVID-19
American citizens are still being taken care of and are currently able to obtain routine passport services which includes reports of births abroad as well as any notarial services, but these services may begin to be limited starting March 18. Many embassies and consulates are still allowing citizens to make appointments for their routine passport services, but after March 18th, the embassy or consulate may reach out to you and ask for you to reschedule.
If you have time-sensitive immigration questions or paperwork that needs to be submitted, immigration attorney Pace Rawlins can assist you with your matter.
Immigration Services Still Available for Non-Citizens During COVID-19
For non-citizens who wish to immigrate into the U.S. or obtain a visa which would allow them to legally work and live in the U.S., routine services will be suspended as of March 18, 2020, until further notice. This means that all pre existing appointments for routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services have been suspended and the process of legally immigrating to the U.S. will be put on hold for the time being.
U.S. embassies and consulates are still meeting with immigrants and non-immigrants who have a valid emergency/expedited visa request. To qualify for a emergency/expedited visa appointment, your request will have to fit one of the following criteria:
- An immediate relative’s death, grave illness or life threatening accident taking place in the United States.
- Urgent medical treatment for the applicant or their minor child.
- An applicant for a student or exchange visitor (F/M/J) visa whose I-20 or DS-2019 has a start date that is earlier than the first available visa appointment.
- An unexpected need to travel to the United States for urgent business purposes that is occurring within 10 days after the first available visa appointment.
- An unexpected visit that is of significant cultural, political, journalistic, sporting or economic importance that is occurring within 10 days after the first available visa appointment.
U.S. Embassy and Consulates In Mexico
The U.S. embassy and consulates in Mexico are the latest to announce that they have suspended all routine immigration services and will not be processing visas for the foreseeable future and just like the rest of the embassies and consulates, only emergency immigration requests will be processed. For those who are in Mexico and are trying to immigrate to the U.S., it is recommended that you routinely check the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico website for any updates.
Working with an Experienced Immigration Attorney
Even though the embassies and consulates are not processing new visa requests at this time, now is an excellent time to work on your visa application and ensure that you have all of the necessary documents and paperwork ready to be submitted as soon as the embassies and consulates begin accepting new visa and immigration appointments. During this time, an experienced immigration attorney can work with you to ensure that you have all of the required paperwork and most importantly that it is filled out correctly which will lead to a faster decision regarding your immigration status.