U.S. Embassy update on visa processing

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The U.S. Embassy in Manila issued a update on the immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing.   As of November 3, 2021 the U.S. Consulate issued the following guidelines:

“Routine visa services remain suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines continues to operate with reduced staffing.”

“As conditions surrounding the COVID-19 situation improve, the Embassy will provide additional services, culminating eventually in a complete resumption of routine visa services. The Embassy cannot predict when the resumption of full visa services or processing of a specific category of visa will occur.”

“Immigrant Visa (IV): The Embassy continues to have a significant backlog of all categories of immigrant visas.  We are using a tiered approach to triage immigrant visa applications, based on the category of immigrant visa, as we resume and expand processing.  While we schedule limited appointments within all four priority tiers every month, the following lists the main categories of immigrant visas in priority order:

  • Tier One: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), and certain Special Immigrant Visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government)
  • Tier Two: Immediate relative visas; fiancé(e) visas; and returning resident visas
  • Tier Three: Family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad
  • Tier Four: All other immigrant visas, including employment preference and Diversity Visas 

Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV):  The Embassy continues to prioritize travelers with urgent (i.e. matter of life and death) travel needs, foreign diplomats, and certain mission-critical categories of travelers, such as students and exchange visitors (F-1, M-1, and J-1) and temporary employment visas (H-1B, H-2B, and L nonimmigrant). Visa appointments and processing for B1/B2 (Business/Tourist) have resumed at significantly reduced levels.”

What happen to the filing fees of those who are waiting for visa appointment?

“We understand that many visa applicants have paid the visa application processing fee and are still waiting to schedule a visa appointment.  The Embassy will extend the validity of your payment (known as the MRV fee) until September 30, 2023, to allow all applicants who were unable to schedule a visa appointment as a result of the suspension of routine consular operations an opportunity to schedule a visa appointment with the already-paid fee.”

What is the procedure if an expedite is necessary to obtain a nonimmigrant visa?

“NIV Expedite Appointment Requests: Expedite requests for emergency travel may be submitted via our website at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph/ph-niv-visaapply.asp.  Please note that the applicant will need to book a regular appointment through our appointment system before requesting an expedited appointment through http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph/ph-niv-expeditedappointment.asp.

How may applicants avail of the interview waiver program for nonimmigrant visa?

“NIV Interview Waiver: The interview waiver program has been expanded. Information is available at https://ph.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-updates/.

How may visa applicants request to reschedule their visa interview when the regular processing resume?

“Visa Scheduling:  After we resume visa processing, which will be confirmed on our website at https://ph.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-updates, applicants can reschedule the first available visa interview appointment slot by phone at (+632) 7792-8988 or (+632) 8548-8223, or through our online appointment system at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph/.  There is no fee to change an appointment.  After routine visa processing resumes, if you have difficulties rescheduling a pending consular appointment, you may send an email to support-philippines@ustraveldocs.com for specific guidance.”

What are the protocols for immigrants, nonimmigrant and U.S. citizens travelling to the United States with regards to Covid 19 requirements?

“All airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel.  Alternatively, travelers to the United States may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Check the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions. ”  

Note:  This is not a legal advice.

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