Immigration News: Update on Worldwide Visa Operations October/November 2022

In this video, we bring you the latest update from the State Department regarding the status of worldwide consular visa operations as of October 2022, including statistics and what you can expect in the coming months as it relates to visa processing.

If you are waiting for your immigrant visa to be processed at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas, then this video is right for you.

Did You know? The State Department recently announced that it has reached pre-pandemic visa processing.

If you would like to know more about this important topic, just keep on watching.


The State Department recently provided a report on the status of consular visa operations and what the agency has been doing to cut down the waiting periods for immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants at Consulates worldwide. We provide the highlights of the report down below.

One of the major ways in which the State Department is improving visa processing times is by hiring more U.S. foreign service workers at Consulates overseas.

As you may be aware, visa backlogs at Consulates overseas piled up during the COVID-19 pandemic after the Department of State announced a worldwide suspension of routine visa services. Due to the restrictions on travel to the United States, as well as several other factors including social distancing protocols, Consulates were unable to schedule applicants for in-person visa interviews. The result was that virtually no visas were issued in the family preference categories during the temporary suspension of visa services, which caused the backlogs to increase significantly.

What is happening with visa operations now?

The State Department is almost back to pre-pandemic processing.

New initiatives like interview waivers are providing relief to Consulates and Embassies, while making available much needed interview slots for other applicants who need appointments.

The State Department estimates that approximately 30 percent of worldwide nonimmigrant visa applicants may be eligible for an interview waiver. This is a very positive development that could very well increase in the months ahead.

We predict that expansion of interview waivers may also occur for immigrant visa applicants, including family-based petitions and other employment-based categories. We will be carefully monitoring the status of visa operations and will report on any changes we see right here on our blog.

What milestones have been made so far?

According to the State Department:

  • As of October 2022, consular sections worldwide have reduced the overall Immigrant Visa interview scheduling backlog by 25 percent (nearly 135,000 applicants), from its peak in July 2021.
  • U.S. Embassies in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras eliminated an Immigrant Visa backlog of 22,000 applicants, and Ciudad Juarez (one of the busiest Consulates in the world) reduced the Immigrant Visa backlog for Mexican applicants by nearly 44 percent.
  • U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide adjudicated more student visas in July 2022 than in any other month since 2016, with nearly 180,000 F, M, and academic J visas processed. More interview slots are being opened in the months of November and December
  • U.S. Embassies and Consulates exceeded pre-pandemic levels of visa processing for seasonal agricultural and nonagricultural workers, with more than 395,000 H-2 visas issued in fiscal year 2022.
  • Thousands of crewmember visas were issued for those essential to maintaining the global supply chains that support both the U.S. and global economy.
  • By Summer 2022, the issuance rates of crewmember visas were comparable to pre-pandemic levels.
  • U.S. Embassies and Consulates issued all available E-3 visas in FY 2022, the immigrant visa category most sought by healthcare workers
  • U.S. Embassies and Consulates issued 54,334 Diversity Visas during the DV-2022 program year, the highest number of DVs issued in 25 years

The Bottom Line

While this is certainly positive information, we know that in practice at least some Consulates and Embassies are still moving slowly, with many unable to schedule as many interview appointments as necessary. But this report signals that the State Department is actively working on improving visa processing to return to pre-pandemic visa issuance levels. This update highlights that it is a big priority for the State Department to eliminate the current backlogs with a focus on additional hiring and interview waivers. We are certainly grateful for the transparency and will continue to keep you informed on the latest updates on visa processing.

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