Visa interviews went through a difficult 2020, with a lot of changes under the outgoing administration. Many changes are expected with biden’s immigration reform!
It is a new year and, like you, many of us immigration attorneys are looking for a way to start fresh. With so many changes to immigration policy, regulations, and policy under the outgoing administration, immigration practitioners have spent the last four years in a stop and go march on behalf of our clients. Many of these changes have made it more difficult for immigrants to get their green cards. And yet, at GWP immigration law, we have been blessed enough to see many cases to their successful end in immigration court and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Consular processing cases that must go through the Department of State, however, have been a different story altogether. These have remained at a virtual stand-still since last Spring. On April 22, 2020, citing the COVID pandemic, President Trump cancelled visa interviews at consular and embassy posts by way of Presidential Proclamation 10014. This means that many types of visas like fiancée visas and visas for certain family members have been in a holding pattern with no visa interview in the foreseeable future. This is so except for a few categories of people like spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, among others. In June, 2020, Trump extended freezing these visa interviews abroad through the end of 2020.
Just as everyone was getting ready to ring in the new year, on December 31, 2020, the administration extended its halt on visa interviews again through March 31, 2021. This news is disappointing because these proclamations have sometimes meant adding a year or more of family separation in an already years’-long process. It has extended uncertainty for many U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents trying to sponsor a loved one to the U.S. It is also a source of concern because we are looking at adding more to an increasing back-log for the Department of State.
Despite this unwelcome news, you can continue to prepare your case. If your case is one of these in limbo, you can continue to gather the required and correct documents in a timely fashion. It is still possible to submit your case to the National Visa Center, the part of the government that processes visa applications for the Department of State. Do all you can on your end to get your case in a queue so that when the consulate or embassy where you will interview starts to reschedule interviews, your case is camera- ready. Because these cases can be quite complex and involve traveling abroad, it is always recommendable to get an assessment from an attorney before you submit your applications and documents.
While the latest extension of Presidential Proclamation 10014 is not ideal, it is not written in stone and it does not mean you should throw in the towel. The incoming Biden administration can and will likely cancel this latest extension of Presidential Proclamation 10014. We hope that with the new year and the new administration expected immigration reform, the ship will begin to turn around and cases at the Department of State will return to normal processing soon.
*Disclaimer: this blog is not intended to aid with anyone seeking to come and live in the US undocumented, is not legal advice, and is for informational purposes only.