The Department of State has recently announced that U.S. Embassies and Consulates will begin a phased resumption of processing routine nonimmigrant and immigrant visas. Such cases will include travelers with urgent travel needs, students (F-1, M-1, and certain J-1), and some family members of U.S. citizens, consistent with Presidential Proclamation 10014. Prior to the Department of State’s announcement, routine operations at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates had been temporarily suspended as of March 20, 2020. Visa services were limited to U.S. citizens, and applicants with urgent matters, emergencies, or mission-critical visas.
The Department of State has not provided a definite timeline as to when individual U.S. Embassies and Consulates will resume specific visa services or return to processing cases at pre-Covid-19 workload levels. Furthermore, the volume of cases processed and the type of services offered at each consulate post will likely vary and depend on local conditions such as medical infrastructure, number of COVID-19 cases, emergency response capabilities, and governmental restrictions on leaving the home. As the circumstances of the global pandemic improve, additional services will be provided gradually until there is a complete resumption of routine visa services.
The Department of State’s announcement will not affect travelers under the Visa Waiver Program and the issuance of all visas will remain subject to the restrictions outlined in the COVID-19 Presidential Proclamations (P.P. 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996, and 10041) and the COVID-19 Labor Market Proclamations (P.P. 10014 and 10052).
While the Department of State’s announcement is welcomed news, uncertainty regarding the pandemic and immigration restrictions continues. Accordingly, we advise all foreign nationals and company employees to remain in the U.S. unless a visa appointment has been secured with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and to avoid any unnecessary international travel. If you have any questions, please contact a Jackson Walker attorney.
Sang Shin is an experienced immigration attorney with a demonstrated history of successfully representing clients in their immigration matters. Sang advises clients through various immigration applications, including but not limited to: L-1, H-1B, TN, B-1/B-2, B-1 in lieu of H-1B, B-1 OCS, F-1, E-2, E-3, O-1, EADs, Advance Parole as well as PERM Labor Certification, I-140 Immigrant Petitions in the EB1, EB2 and EB3 categories along with Adjustment of Status and Naturalization. Sang also advises client through audits conducted by various government entities including I-9 Audits and review of LCA Public Access Files.
Christian A. Triantaphyllis is a Houston immigration and real estate attorney and the chair of Jackson Walker’s Investment Immigration practice. Christian represents foreign nationals and immigrant investors in cross-border and business immigration matters, usually dealing with regional centers and direct investments. He takes pride in easing the process for foreign nationals related to EB-5 immigrant investment petitions; I-924 Regional Center applications and amendments; petitions to acquire work-authorization for foreign national professional employees; and immigration law compliance in accordance with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of State.
Catharine Yen is an attorney in the real estate and land use practice of Jackson Walker’s Houston office with particular experience in foreign investment and immigration matters. Catharine represents foreign nationals and immigrant investors in all aspects of the EB-5 process to facilitate cross-border and business immigration transactions dealing with regional centers and direct investments. Catharine’s knowledge of the EB-5 visa program, process, and timeline has allowed her to file hundreds of approved I-526 and I-829 petitions. She also regularly prepares and files I-924 Regional Center Applications.
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