The U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that Presidential Proclamation 10052, which suspended the entry of certain nonimmigrants, expired on March 31, 2021. Visa issuance may resume for applicants in H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visa categories. The expiration of this Presidential Proclamation marks the end of the bans on visa issuance for both immigrant (green cards) visas and nonimmigrant (temporary) visas.
DOS announced that visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed or scheduled for an interview will have their applications prioritized and processed according to existing phased resumption of visa services guidance. Applicants who were refused visas due to the restrictions of the proclamation may reapply by submitting a new application including a new fee.
While this is welcome news, visa applicants must understand that the expiration of PP 10052 will not likely result in immediate processing of their nonimmigrant visa applications. The COVID-19 global pandemic continues place a large burden on consular posts. Operations are impacted by COVID-19 conditions local to the community / country where the post is located.
In addition, the yearlong pause in processing of immigrant visas resulted in a backlog of over 500,000 documentary qualified applicants. These applications are ready to be sent to post on a first-in-first-out-basis. Posts will likely focus their limited resources on moving these applications through the system.
Finally, the country specific COVID-19 travel bans remain in effect for travel to the U.S. from China, Iran, Schengen Area, U.K., Ireland, Brazil and South Africa. It is possible to apply for an exception to the travel ban using a National Interest Exception (NIE). NIEs are available for individuals travelling to the U.S. to support critical infrastructure.
Students applying for F-1 or M-1 visas do not need to apply for an individual NIE. Students who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel.
It is unknown when NIV and IV visa appointment availability will be back to pre-COVID-19 levels. E&M Mayock can assist with advice before travel, visa appointments and NIE applications. E&M Mayock has had considerable success assisting our clients to obtain NIE waivers. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our information inquiry box to request assistance with your visa issuance needs during these difficult times.