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January 15 2021

The Resumption of Routine Visa Services – U.S Department of State takes a phased approach

The Department of State suspended routine visa services worldwide in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2020, U.S. Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services.

They prioritized services to U.S. citizens and foreign students with work visas.

As consul post-specific conditions permit, missions started to phase in processing some routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa cases. Posts that process immigrant visa applications will prioritize Immediate Relative family members of U.S. citizens including intercountry adoptions fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens, and certain Special Immigrant Visa applications.

Posts processing non-immigrant visa applications have continued to prioritize travellers with urgent travel needs, foreign diplomats, and certain mission-critical categories of travellers such as those coming to assist with the U.S. response to the pandemic, followed by students (F-1, M-1, and certain J-1) and temporary employment visas.

Application fees that expired while routine services were suspended

The Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee is valid within one year of the date of payment and may be used to schedule a visa appointment in the country where it was purchased. However, as a result of the pandemic, many visa applicants have paid the visa application processing fee and are still waiting to schedule a visa appointment.

The Department has now extended the validity of MRV fees until September 30, 2022. This allows all applicants who were unable to schedule a visa appointment due to the suspension of routine consular operations an opportunity to schedule and/or attend a visa appointment with the fee already paid.

It is hoped that soon immigrant visas will begin to be processed.