President Trump on Friday ordered the temporary suspension of all “routine visa services” provided through all US embassies and consulates in foreign countries and in the US.
The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows the issuance of 675,000 permanent immigrant visas each year across various visa categories, as well as hundreds of thousands of additional visas in categories that range from visitors to work status.
Services to US citizens, however, will continue, an official at the State Department said. The suspension is in response to the worldwide threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020,” the State Department official said on condition of anonymity.
“As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide urgent and emergency visa services.”
The suspension does not affect the Visa Waiver Program, which enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa, the spokesperson said.
“Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time,” the official explained.
“Although all routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments are cancelled, the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee is valid and may be used for a visa appointment in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment.”
The Temporary Visa Suspension will also not affect applicants with “an urgent matter” who “need to travel immediately.” Such individuals should visit the US embassy’s website to request an “emergency appointment” to obtain a visa.