Consular Update: Reopening of U.S. Consular Posts and Resumption of Limited Visa Processing

U.S. consular posts are beginning to reopen for visa processing worldwide. The U.S. Department of State has lifted the worldwide suspension of routine visa services, effective July 15, noting that only limited visa processing is available at this time.

The resumption of visa services worldwide will proceed on a post-by-post basis. The State Department has issued guidance, stating that the reopening of consular posts will be based on local conditions, including medical infrastructure, COVID-19 cases, emergency response capabilities, and restrictions on leaving home. Consular posts will be providing limited routine visa services to ensure the safety of staff and customers, including limiting the number of interviews scheduled at a time. These precautions, combined with the cancellation of appointments beginning in March 2020, may lead to longer than normal wait times for visa interview appointments during the phased reopening of consular posts.

With the European Union slowly reopening internal borders and the situation greatly improving, many U.S. consular posts in Europe, including Frankfurt and Vienna, are beginning to reopen. The U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt will resume limited visa operations on July 20. The U.S. Embassy in Vienna is expected to begin limited operations this month, as well.

Despite the end of the suspension of routine visa services and with consular posts beginning to reopen, it is important to remember that a number of travel restrictions are still in place. The restrictions on visa issuance for L, J, and H-1B visas are still in place. Additionally, there are geographic travel restrictions still in place, including restrictions on travel to the United States from the Schengen Zone, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, Iran, and China. Waivers are available in some circumstances.

We will continue to monitor the phased reopening of consular posts worldwide and additional impacts on U.S. immigration due to COVID-19. If you have any questions or require advice regarding the phased reopening of consular posts or existing travel restrictions, please contact Teri A. Simmons, Montserrat C. Miller, Stephen P. Pocalyko, or William G. Adams.