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DOS Clarifies US Embassy Consulate Immigrant Visa Priorities

By Nita Nicole Upadhye

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DOS Clarifies US Embassy Consulate Immigrant Visa Priorities

As a result of the pandemic, US immigration processing has been severely disrupted. Embassies and consular posts in the US continue to operate at limited capacity due to ongoing public health measures such as social distancing, and overseas posts remain subject to varying restrictions on movement and gatherings as imposed by host countries.

Due to the ongoing challenges with processing services, the Department of State (DOS) has now shared insight into immigrant visa prioritization and the status of immigrant visa application processing.

The clarification notice details how US embassies and consulates are prioritizing immigrant visa applications and how application backlogs are being managed as processing expands to reach pre-COVID levels.

Notably, US posts that pre-COVID would process both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas are currently prioritizing immigrant visa applications, while still providing some nonimmigrant visa services.

Immigrant visa applications are being ‘triaged’ and prioritized according to a tiered system designed to support the guiding principle of the US Government’s immigration policy that family reunification is a priority.

Tier One

  • Age-out cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age
  • Immediate intercountry adoption visas
  • Special Immigrant Visas
  • Emergency cases as determined on a case-by-case basis.

 

Tier Two

  • Fiancé(e) visas
  • Immediate relative visas
  • Returning resident visas

 

Tier Three

  • SE Special Immigrant Visas for US government employees abroad
  • Family preference immigrant visas

 

Tier Four

  • All other immigrant visa categories including employment preference and diversity visas

 

Applications for foreign healthcare workers are also being prioritized and diversity visas continue to be processed.

 

Need assistance?

Application processing and service status vary by US post. Take advice if you are making an application, to understand current processing and waiting times for your visa category.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

Author

Founder & Principal Attorney Nita Nicole Upadhye is a recognized leader in the field of US business immigration law (AILA) and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with both US and UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

Nita successfully acts for corporations and professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, actors, and athletes from across the globe, providing expert guidance on all aspects of US visa and nationality applications, and talent mobility to the USA.

Nita is an active public speaker, thought leader, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.​

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.

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For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.

For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.