State Department visa wait times delayed by pandemic shutdown

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COVID travel restrictions may be getting better, but latest State Department update Visa wait times confirms that there are still very serious visa appointment delays resulting from the pandemic.

During peak times of the pandemic, many U.S. embassies and consulates have been forced to close completely or limit their services to emergency appointments only. Over the past year, many have reopened and resumed processing as quickly as possible, but appear to be overwhelmed again by the volume and backlog of applications. Currently, at many U.S. consulates, the wait for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa stamping appointment is 100 days or longer. In Paris, it’s 200 days; in Melbourne it is 220 days; and in Madrid it is 124 days.

Whether it’s making an appointment before the start of the school year in the fall, taking advantage of the summer season for a family vacation or traveling abroad during the winter holidays, it is more important than never plan ahead. If you need a valid, unexpired nonimmigrant visa stamp in your passport to enter the United States, be sure to confirm the validity of your current visa and other immigration documents well before planning any international travel, and to take these significant appointment delays into account. Account. You should also check the validity of visas and immigration documents for family members.

A few important things to keep in mind:

  • Waiting times for visa appointments change regularly. Check the visa scheduling website frequently to determine if earlier appointments become available.

  • Many people will be worried about long wait times for appointments and will want to call the consulate for appointments sooner. There are very few options to get appointments earlier. The way to request an appointment earlier is to do so in the appointment system where you scheduled the appointment, by requesting an “expedited/urgent appointment”. As the name suggests, there must be a clear and urgent basis for consular officers to grant an expedited/urgent appointment. These are granted on a limited basis, for medical and humanitarian reasons. Factors that are often considered when granting an emergency appointment include: matters of life or death; a medical or professional emergency; and serious financial losses for companies. To request an expedited/rush appointment, you must already have made an appointment. Typically there are only a chance to request an expedited appointment. If an expedited/emergency appointment request is denied, other requests may not be considered, so make sure the case is sound before submitting an expedited request. Unfortunately, most applications are denied due to staffing issues and backlogs.

  • Many companies have restrictions or limitations on working remotely, especially when done from another country. Working from another country may result in tax liabilities to that country, both for the individual employee and for the entire global organization. Check with your human resources and management teams before considering working in a country other than the one in which you are currently employed.

  • Although unlikely, it is always possible that your scheduled appointment will be canceled or postponed. Be prepared for unexpected delays and always notify your HR and management teams before any international travel, in case your travels do not go as planned and/or you need assistance from your employer abroad or to return to the United States.

Copyright © 2022, Hunter Andrews Kurth LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 152

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