The U.S. Department of State (DOS), which is responsible for all U.S. embassies and consulates, has provided an update on its plan for the phased resumption of routine visa service across the globe. While this provides the general plan on how it will go about restarting normal visa services, no timelines are provided. To the contrary, the DOS emphasizes that such decisions will be made based on local conditions in each country. As the DOS explains, “Local conditions that may affect when we can begin providing various public services include medical infrastructure, COVID-19 cases, emergency response capabilities, and restrictions on leaving home.”

Prioritization of Services at U.S. Consular Posts

U.S. consulates and embassies prioritize services for U.S. citizens over foreign nationals. After those demands are met, priority has been given to immigrant visas for immediate relative family members of U.S. citizens, followed by nonimmigrant travelers with urgent travel needs, foreign diplomats, and certain mission critical categories of travelers such as those coming to assist with the U.S. response to the pandemic.

The next groups prioritized are foreign national students and nonimmigrant workers who are not subject to the travel ban issued by President Trump in June 2020, and recently extended.

Finally, an embassy or consulate will resume adjudicating all routine nonimmigrant and immigrant visa cases once adequate resources are available, and it is safe to do so.

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