UPDATE: 3/27/20 5:30 PM PT
DOS Announces Availability of Visas Services Abroad for Medical Professionals with Approved Petitions
Although the Department of State ("DOS") has temporarily suspended visa processing at U.S. Embassies and consulates worldwide, on March 26, 2020, the DOS issued an online statement encouraging foreign medical professionals with approved nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions, especially those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy to request for a visa appointment. The DOS is also encouraging foreign physicians and medical residents who are already in the United States on J-1 visas to consult with their program sponsor to extend their program in the United States.
3/20/2020 5:00 PM PT
The DOS announced this morning that routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide are suspended until further notice due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. All routine visa appointments for nonimmigrant and immigrants will stand as cancelled as of today, March 20, 2020. While services remain available to U.S. citizens, the DOS issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory yesterday strongly urging U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel. U.S. citizens who are traveling internationally and live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.
We are continuing to advise that all nonimmigrants (F-1, H-1B, E-3, etc.) who are currently living and working in the United States to avoid all international trips where this is possible and legally permissible. Nonimmigrants who depart the United States may face difficulties reentering, even where the travel is to countries that are not covered by the travel bans currently in effect. If you have unavoidable travel plans outside the United States during this time, please contact our office immediately.
On March 13, 2020, the DOS issued a Global Travel Advisory advising US citizens to reconsider travel abroad as many countries are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and are implementing restrictions that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. The United States continues to suspend entry for foreign nationals, including nonimmigrants such as H-1B, L-1 and F-1, who have visited or traveled in the last 14 days to China and Iran, and most recently the "Schengen Area" of Europe which goes into effect today, March 13th at 11:59pm EST. The ban does not apply to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and their immediate family members, however these individuals will be subject to enhanced health screenings and possible quarantine upon return to the United States. Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions by the U.S. or any other country to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. As such, we recommend persons who are currently living and working in in the U.S. in nonimmigrant status (F-1, H-1B, etc.) to avoid international trips where this is possible, and legally permissible. Clients should contact our office for any questions on foreign travel and applying for visas at US consular posts.
Below are updates on visa services at US Embassies and the availability of ESTA:
(Note: "Mission" = all U.S. Embassies and consular posts within the stated country.)
US Mission China:
Services at the US Embassy and Consular Posts in China continue to be suspended since February 8, 2020
US Mission India:
As of March 13, U.S. Mission India posts are cancelling immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments from March 16, 2020 onward in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Once Mission India resumes regular consular operations, appointments will be made available and applicants will be able to reschedule.
US Mission Italy:
Due to reduced staffing that went into effect on March 11th, only emergency American Citizen Services and emergency visa services are available at the U.S. Embassy in Rome and Consulates General Milan, Naples, and Florence.
US Mission Spain:
As of March 11, appointments for consular services at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and the U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona will be limited, and the five U.S. consular agencies throughout Spain (Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Malaga, Sevilla, Valencia) will provide only emergency services to U.S. citizens.
US Mission Germany:
As of March 13, 2020, the United States Embassy and Consulates in Germany are cancelling routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments. We will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.
US Embassy Dublin:
As of March 16, 2020, the United States Embassy in Dublin will suspend appointments for consular services until March 29, 2020.
US Embassy Switzerland:
As of March 16, 2020, the United States Embassy in Switzerland is cancelling routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments. Routine visa services will resume as soon as possible but the Embassy is unable to provide a specific date at this time.
US Embassy Jamaica:
Possible COVID-19 case related to Embassy employee. The Consular Section will not be providing routine services – including visa processing and American citizens services – until further notice.
ESTA Program for Europe:
Travelers from the Schengen Area can still apply for an ESTA if their travel will take place after the U.S. travel ban has been lifted. Travelers from the United Kingdom who have not been to the Schengen Area within 14 days of entry to the United States will still be able to travel under the Visa Waiver Program.