It has been almost four months since the suspension of routine visa services worldwide in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Department of State is gradually resuming the issuance of visas at U.S. embassies and consulates. Since March, they have only been providing emergency appointments and mission-critical visa services.
The Department announced the resumption of routine consular services depending on the health conditions of the country in which it is located, in order to ensure the safety of its workforce in American embassies and consulates around the world. Also, highlighted that all consulates and embassies are implementing a health safety guideline for entering a Department compound to protect diplomatic personnel and visa applicants:
- Physical distancing.
- Scheduling fewer interviews simultaneously.
- Frequent disinfection of high-touch areas.
The Department is unable to detail a specific date an embassy or consulate will resume consular visa services or return to the same visa processing pace prior to the COVID-19 crisis. That is why Visa applicants are encouraged to monitor the website of their respective consular facility for additional information on operating status, consular services offered, and appointment availability.
Other points mentioned in the statement:
- The changes don’t affect the Visa Waiver Program, allowing citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business.
- President Trump’s executive orders on travel restrictions remain in effect.
The Visa services foreigners can receive at U.S. consulates and embassies:
- Travelers with urgent travel needs.
- Students with F-1 and M-1 visas, and some J-1 visas for exchange visitors.
- Immigrant visas for some family members of U.S. citizens consistent with the presidential proclamation suspending entry of foreigners who present a risk to the labor market.