The United States has changed the priorities in issuing visas: who will have to wait longer
The US Department of State has slightly changed the priorities for issuing visas. Who has now received priority and who will have to wait is discussed at State Department site.
“As the Department of State is working to reduce the backlog of applications due to travel restrictions and operational restrictions caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, we would like to clarify which applications for immigration visas are preferred by embassies and consulates,” the department said in a statement.
Outlets that handle both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas will give preference to immigrant visa applications, but will still provide some nonimmigrant visa services.
“However, the volume and type of visa cases that each agency will handle will still depend on local conditions, including travel and collection restrictions imposed by host governments,” the State Department said.
In addition, in line with the US government's federal workplace safety guidelines, US embassies and consulates have implemented social distancing and other security measures that have reduced the number of applications consular offices can process in a single day.
“We recognize the importance of each category of immigrant visas. However, during the pandemic, the department was forced to make a difficult decision as to how consular departments should prioritize applications for immigration visas, since they work with disabilities, ”the department said.
The department claims that it was based on several principles: family reunification is a clear priority of the US government's immigration policy, and the priority is expressed in the Immigration and Citizenship Act (INA). In particular, the prioritization of the department was based on a clear instruction from Congress that the department should adopt a policy of prioritizing visa applicants for immediate family and K-1 fiancées of US citizens, and then applicants for a family preference immigrant visa.
Consistent with these goals, U.S. Embassies and Consulates take a tiered approach to sorting immigrant visa applications:
- First level: visas for immediate intercountry adoption, expiration cases (cases where the applicant will soon become unqualified due to their age), some special immigration visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi citizens working with the US government), and emergencies determined by individually.
- Second level: visas for immediate family members; marriage visas; visas for returning residents.
- Level three: family immigrant visas and SE special immigrant visas for certain U.S. government employees overseas.
- Fourth level: all other immigrant visas, including work visas and multilateral visas.
At the same time, the State Department notes that there are huge delays in many embassies and consulates, and such a structuring of priority visas allows employees to make the most of their limited resources.
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The Department recognizes that visa applicants, especially at the third and fourth levels, will face continued delays.
The department also notes that employees recognize the importance of the green card lottery, and try to process as many applications as possible.
“However, as a result of COVID-19, the number of visas issued in lower priority categories or in programs such as the green card lottery will likely not come close to the established limit in fiscal 2021,” the statement said.
With the emergence of the Delta strain, healthcare workers may fall into the first category and request that their application be considered as an emergency on an individual basis.
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