With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the availability of visa services at U.S. government offices and consulates abroad remains limited. The seriousness of backlogs in visa interviews varies based on the epidemic control protocols of every country. U.S. government offices and consulates are taking the necessary precautions to protect their staff and the public.
Priority for U.S. Citizens, Diplomats, and Medical / Food Industries
Presently, U.S.embassies and consulates continue to prioritize petitions from U.S. residents for their close relatives and other family members. Others given priority include, but are not limited to, foreign diplomats and certain mission-critical workers in the medical or food industry.
Routine Visa Services and Wait Time Tracking
Routine visa services are being phased in on a post-by-post basis. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) offers an online tool to track the current wait time for an interview for nonimmigrant visa candidates. Also, estimated wait times may change depending on the health situation in the specific country and the staff capacity of each U.S. embassy or consulate.
Expedited Processing in Limited Circumstances
One may request an expedited interview appointment dependent on a critical need. Worthy explanations behind an expedited appointment include medical requirements (e.g., to get urgent medical care). Attending a funeral, urgent business travel, or to begin or resume a valid program of study.
To be eligible for expedited visa processing, a visa candidate should complete and submit the online visa application form (DS-160) with the application fee. Moreover, evidentiary documents will be needed to show the need for the expedited interview appointment.
[Indian-American frontline healthcare professionals in Green Card backlog hold protest at US Capitol]
If the expedited visa appointments allowed and, during the interview. The consular officer confirms that the visa applicant misrepresented the requirement for urgent travel. It likely would have a negative impact on the outcome of the visa application.
However, with expanded vaccination production and administration, the expectation is that the threat of the pandemic will subside, allowing worldwide travel to fully resume. For now, foreign nationals must recognize that visa appointments are limited and must plan accordingly.