Update on U.S. Consular Operations
Beginning on March 20, 2020, U.S. consular posts worldwide suspended normal consular services, including routine visa services. Immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services remain restricted to emergencies and those deemed mission critical. Consular Affairs has clearly articulated that its first priority is U.S. citizen services. AILA members are reporting that although a number of posts are starting to book routine appointments, these appointments are often canceled or pushed out to a later date.
On July 11, 2020, the Department of State responded to a stakeholder on Twitter and mentioned that beginning on July 15, 2020, posts may begin a phased reopening of routine visa services, depending on local conditions. The Department of State further indicated that stakeholders should monitor embassy and consular post websites for updates on the status of their services. Some posts have already begun posting relevant guidance. Subsequently, on July 14, the Department of State issued an official announcement reiterating that DOS will resume routine visa services on a post-by-post basis, but is unable to provide a specific date for when each mission will resume specific visa services, or when each mission will return to processing at pre-COVID levels.
Given that the severity of the pandemic varies by location and changes over time, it is reasonable to expect that consular re-openings will, as indicated by State, occur in a phased manner based on many factors. Services offered by the various posts as they reopen are also likely to vary.
The State Department is unlikely to provide a centralized repository of information regarding the status of operations or services offered at a particular consular post. The public has been advised to consult the posts’ websites for this information, which can be found at usembassy.gov.