Consular sections of US embassies around the world, as well as US Citizenship and Immigration Services, are beginning to announce cancellations of certain in-person services, including routine nonimmigrant and immigrant visa appointments, in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Mail-in visa applications that do not require an in-person interview are generally still being processed, depending on the country. Currently, routine visa appointments at US consulates in Australia, Barbados, Costa Rica, France, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, and Belfast (UK) have been canceled until further notice. The US Embassy in London is canceling most routine nonimmigrant visa appointments and reducing appointments for final interviews for permanent residence.
Some consular sections are allowing applicants to request an appointment under urgent or emergency circumstances that require the applicant to travel immediately. Applicants should be prepared to provide an explanation for the urgent travel under the guidelines. Services for US citizens may be limited, depending on the country. Employers with international offices should expect delays in travel for employee transfers to the employers’ US offices.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended routine in-person services at its domestic field offices and asylum offices as of today, March 18, until at least April 1.
Which In-Person Services Are Suspended?
In-Person Services Previously Scheduled Between March 18–April 1
If an applicant did not appear for a scheduled interview or appointment for reasons directly tied to COVID-19, the applicant should consult with immigration counsel to review next steps. If an applicant has already rescheduled an appointment or interview, no further action is required. USCIS has confirmed that appointments and interviews will be rescheduled without penalty.
USCIS has confirmed that it will continue to provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment, please contact the USCIS Contact Center.
As the situation develops daily, we recommend employers review their current employee mobility plans. Our lawyers stand ready to help enhance or develop mobility plans, or to discuss options for employees who need to obtain a US visa for urgent travel, or address pending USCIS applications. Please contact your Morgan Lewis lawyer, or any of the lawyers below, for assistance.
If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this alert, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:
Shannon A. Donnelly
Eric S. Bord
Laura C. Garvin