Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares information about the current status of U.S. visa services at Consulates and Embassies worldwide by country for the month of August 2021. We would also like to say that our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Afghanistan who are facing extremely difficult circumstances in their country. Our office represents several immigrant visa applicants in Afghanistan and are doing everything we can to help reunite visa applicants with their loved ones in the United States.
In this blog post we will run through what we know regarding the operating status of Consulates and Embassies all over the world starting with Kabul, Afghanistan.
Keep on watching to find out more.
U.S. Consulate Kabul, Afghanistan
Due to ongoing political unrest and security threats in Kabul, Afghanistan, the U.S. Consulate in Kabul, Afghanistan is closed to the public and operations to assist U.S. Citizens are extremely limited due to reduced staffing.
At this moment we have received information that all immigrant visa applicants who had visa interview appointments at the Consulate in Kabul or were waiting to be scheduled for an interview in Kabul, will be receiving an email with instructions on how your case will proceed. Your case may be moved to a different overseas post, or you may receive instructions to complete the repatriation assistance form (details below).
As we all know, the security situation in Kabul is evolving on a daily basis. The Consulate has advised U.S. citizens seeking assistance to depart the country to complete the Repatriation Assistance Request for each traveler in their group. Spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens in Afghanistan who are awaiting immigrant visas are encouraged to complete this form as soon as possible if they wish to depart. The Repatriation Request form should only be used once to avoid delays. You must complete this form even if you’ve previously submitted your information to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul by another means. This form is the only way to communicate interest in flight options. The Consulate will notify you directly by email based on your registration as soon as departure options become available.
- U.S. Citizenship: The U.S. Embassy will prioritize U.S. citizens for any charter flights. U.S. citizens with a non-citizen spouse or unmarried children (under age 21) may include their family members in their repatriation assistance requests but should indicate each family member’s citizenship and whether each has a valid passport and/or a U.S. visa.
If you are a non-U.S. citizen parent of a U.S. citizen minor, indicate whether you have appropriate travel documentation to enter the United States (i.e. valid U.S. visa). If you do not have appropriate travel documentation, please identify an individual who currently has valid travel documentation who could accompany your U.S. citizen minor.
U.S. lawful permanent residents may submit a repatriation assistance request, and their request will be considered depending on availability.
- Flight Costs: Repatriation flights are not free, and passengers will be required to sign a promissory loan agreement and may not be eligible to renew their U.S. passports until the loan is repaid. The cost may be $2,000USD or more per person.
- Travel Documents: All passengers should have valid travel documents required for entry into the United States (e.g. U.S. passports or visas)
- American Citizens Services Unit, U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan
Located at Great Massoud Road between Radio Afghanistan and
the Ministry of Public Health in Kabul.
+93-700-114-000 or +93-700-108-000 (after hours)
U.S. Embassy Accra, Ghana
Like most embassies around the world, the U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana is working at limited operational capacity meaning that the services they can provide are limited and they have not yet resumed normal processing at pre-pandemic levels. The majority of visa interview appointments being offered by the Embassy in Accra are for approved expedite requests and/or National Interest Exception cases for immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens. Please also note that the Department of State has issued policy guidance to Consular posts and Embassies abroad notifying them that they must follow a prioritization schedule to fill the limited visa interview appointment slots based on cases that were documentarily qualified by the National Visa Center in August to September of 2020 (known as first-in first-out processing).
The prioritization schedule is listed below for reference:
- Tier One: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), and certain Special Immigrant Visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government)
- Tier Two: Immediate relative visas; fiancé(e) visas; and returning resident visas
- Tier Three: Family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad
- Tier Four: All other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas
U.S. Embassy Kenya, Nairobi
Similarly, the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, Nairobi has also not resumed routine visa services and has limited operational capacity. Interviews for visa appointments are again being prioritized according to the Department of State’s prioritization schedule and approved expedite requests and/or National Interest Exception cases.
See the prioritization schedule listed above.
U.S. Consulate Lagos, Nigeria
As of August 17, 2021, the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, Nigeria, is only processing emergency appointments and expedite and/or National Interest Exception cases. As far as we understand Lagos is not providing visa services even on a limited capacity and is only responding to emergency requests. Our office has personally filed numerous National Interest Exception requests for K-1 fiancé(e)’s and CR-1 spouses.
U.S. Embassy Manila, Philippines
By far the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines is the most challenging Embassy we have dealt with to date. The Embassy in Manila is not responding to expedite requests and/or National Interest Exception cases generally, with the rare exception being in cases of extreme emergencies where the U.S. Citizen petitioner is suffering from a severe medical condition or affliction (advanced forms of cancer). As a whole, routine visa services have been suspended due to COVID-19 and the Embassy in Manila is experiencing reduced staffing making it difficult to obtain a visa interview appointment. The Embassy in Manila is also facing a significant backlog for all categories of immigrant visas. While the Embassy is supposed to follow the prioritization schedule outlined by the Department of State for documentarily qualified cases, the reality is that this is not happening. Our office has had difficulty even receiving responses to inquiries and we have had to explore the possibility of transferring cases out of Manila, due to their current suspension of visa services.
U.S. Consulate Dubai
To our knowledge the U.S. Consulate in Dubai is working and providing services to visa applicants. While services are not at pre-pandemic levels, this Consulate is generally scheduling visa appointments and responding to expedite requests and National Interest Exception cases. The U.S. Consulate in Dubai is following the Department of State’s prioritization schedule and is working on processing cases received from other countries (transfer requests). The Consulate is also processing student visas and J-1 visas.
U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is currently working at a limited operating capacity. It is considering expedite requests and/or National Interest Exception cases and scheduling appointments for approved expedites. Our office has had success filing expedite/NIE requests at this post without the need to transfer the case to a neighboring post willing to take the case.
U.S. Kingston, Jamaica
The U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica is also working at a limited operational capacity. They are considering expedite requests and/or National Interest Exception cases and scheduling appointments for approved expedites. They are not processing student visas at this time but are following the Department of State’s prioritization schedule.
U.S. Embassy Islamabad, Pakistan
Similar to other posts, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan is not fully operational but is working at a limited operational capacity. We have had success at this post receiving approved expedites and/or National Interest Exception cases that were scheduled for visa interviews. If you believe you are eligible to receive an expedite of your case, we encourage you to seek a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney to evaluate your case. In any case, you should be proactive about your situation and contact the National Visa Center to ensure your case is documentarily qualified, and to know the status of your case.
U.S. Consulate Johannesburg, South Africa
The U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa is also working at a limited capacity, however this particular post has seen an increase in immigrant visa processing. Many of our clients are having their cases shipped to the Consular section by the National Visa Center. In addition, members of our private Facebook group, ImmigrationU, have also reported increased visa processing and transfers of their cases to this Consular post.
U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Unfortunately, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is not working at a regular capacity at all. Services remain suspended. Even expedite requests and National Interest Exception cases are not being considered at this post. Our office is gearing up to file mandamus lawsuits against this post because of their failure to give consideration to cases that clearly merit expedited processing.
U.S. Embassy Skopje, Macedonia
The U.S. Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia is not operating at pre-pandemic levels, but they are operating at a reasonable capacity. The Embassy is following the Department of State’s prioritization schedule, and although slow, are working through cases at this time as best they can under the circumstances.
U.S. Consulate Mumbai, India
Similarly, the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, India is processing cases at a reasonable pace, although not at pre-pandemic levels but they are doing their best to move through cases as best they can. Priority is being given to immigrant visa applicants, M and F-1 student visa applicants, and they are following the Department of State prioritization schedule. We have also seen an uptick in K-1 fiancé(e) visa processing at this post as well. We have information that documentarily qualified cases from September 2020 are being shipped to this post. Accordingly, if your case has been documentarily qualified during this period of time and you have not yet received notice of your case being transferred to the post, you should contact the National Visa Center by phone or email to inquire about the status of your case.
U.S. Embassy Trinidad and Tobago
The U.S. Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago is also working at a limited operational capacity. The National Visa Center is transferring cases to this post, but they are moving slowly.
U.S. Embassy Doha, Qatar
The U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar is working at a limited operational capacity. It was somewhat open a couple of weeks ago, but the most recent update is that they are working at a limited operational capacity and are not fully at normal capacity.
U.S. Embassy Georgetown, Guyana
The U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana is also operating at a limited capacity, prioritizing immigrant visa cases. There is not too much movement with K-1 fiancé(e) visas at this post. We are also gearing up to file mandamus lawsuits against this post for failure to consider clearly eligible expedite/NIE cases.
U.S. Embassy Monrovia, Liberia
The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia has completely suspended visa services. Nothing is moving even when considering that the Embassy is required to follow the Department of State prioritization schedule. Members of our private Facebook group are reporting that this Embassy is closed off.
U.S. Embassy Cairo, Egypt
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt is working at a limited operational capacity, mostly prioritizing scheduling for immigrant visas. We have received information that they will be processing student visas soon at this post.
U.S. Consulate Auckland, New Zealand
The U.S. Consulate in Auckland, New Zealand is working and processing visas at the moment, although not at pre-pandemic levels. They are slow but they are processing visas and doing their best under the circumstances. With respect to K-1 fiancé(e) visas there appears to be a slowdown in visa processing, but this may be due to staffing issues. With respect to employment-based preference categories that are being processed at the same time as family petitions, visa interview appointments are being prioritized according to its resources.
U.S. Embassy Lima, Peru
The U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru is working at a limited operational capacity and is prioritizing immigrant visa cases. With respect to nonimmigrant visas, we are not seeing any movement. We have some H-1B visa applicants reporting that processing has been stuck and they have not been able to secure visa interview appointments.
U.S. Embassy Dakar, Senegal
Finally, the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal is working at a limited operational capacity and is prioritizing mostly family-based immigrant visa cases.
To find out more about the operational capacity of your U.S. Embassy or Consulate visit their website and click on “immigrant” or “nonimmigrant” visa on the navigational tab. Remember that you can contact the National Visa Center to ensure your case is documentarily qualified and inquire on its potential transfer to the Consular post abroad. If you believe that you are eligible for expedited processing of your case and/or a National Interest Exception, we invite you to contact our office to evaluate your case and determine eligibility.
Contact Us Today. We hope that this information was helpful. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
- U.S. Embassies and Consulates
- NVC Contact Information
- Immigrant Visa Prioritization Schedule
- Visa Bulletin
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