Waiver of appearance for certain expired visa due to Covid 19

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According to DOS, nearly 49,000 individuals were issued immigrant visas between August 4, 2019 and September 30, 2021, and have not yet sought admission. Of the individuals issued immigrant visas between August 4, 2019, and May 31, 2021, over 11,000 did not seek admission before their immigrant visas expired. Additionally, according to the Department’s database query, at least 244 individuals were refused admission into the United States at a port of entry between August 4, 2019, and September 30, 2021, though it is not certain how many of those refusals of admission were due to suspensions of entry relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some individuals in this population may be eligible to benefit from the TFR.

Temporary relaxation of in-person requirements

The TFR allows consular officers to waive the personal appearance of certain repeat immigrant visa applicants who were approved for an immigrant visa in the same classification and on the same basis as the current application on or after August 4, 2019 (6 months prior to the start of the pandemic and travel bans). It also gives consular officers discretion to allow this subset of immigrant visa applicants to affirm the accuracy of the contents of their application without appearing in person before a consular officer. The temporary final rule is effective from December 13, 2021, through December 13, 2023.

To qualify for the discretionary in-person waiver, an applicant must:

  1. Have been issued a U.S. immigrant visa on or after August 4, 2019;
  2. Seek an immigrant visa in the same classification and pursuant to the same approved petition as the previously issued immigrant visa, or an immigrant visa pursuant to the same approved petition as the previously issued visa but in a different classification because it was automatically converted due to the death or naturalization of the petitioner of the previously issued immigrant visa;
  3. Qualify for an immigrant visa in the same classification, or another classification as the result of automatic conversion due to the death or naturalization of the petitioner of the previously issued immigrant visa, and pursuant to the same approved petition as the previously issued immigrant visa; and
  4. Have no changed circumstances that could affect the applicant’s eligibility for the visa.

In addition, the applicant must be willing to affirm under penalty of perjury to the information provided on the Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application, Form DS-260 (or Form DS-230, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration if the consular officer authorizes the use of that form).

The consular officer may communicate with the applicant by telephone or email, may request that the applicant provide additional information that the consular officer deems necessary, and may request the applicant to appear in person. If the applicant identifies the need to change responses to Form DS-260, the consular officer or other authorized consular staff can reopen the DS-260 for the applicant to make changes to that form and re-sign it under penalty of perjury. Repeat immigrant visa applicants will still be required to submit a new Form DS-260 and pay a new fee.

Note: This is not a legal advice.

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