Updates on Department of State’s Prioritizing Immigrant Visa Applications
The Department of State (“DOS”) issued an update that the consular offices are using a tiered approach to triage the immigrant visa applications. The DOS explained that when it possible they are trying to schedule appointments with all four priority tiers each month. However, the number of cases a consular post is able to process depends on the local conditions, which includes restrictions of movement and gathering in light of the pandemic. Additionally, U.S. embassies are following social distancing and other safety measures which limits the number of people allowed in a consular office at any given time.
The tiers the DOS has implemented is as follows:
Tier 1: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (where an applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), certain Special Immigrant visas (for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government, and other emergency cases as determined on a case-by-case system.
Tier 2: Immediate relative visas, fiancé visas, and returning resident visas.
Tier 3: Family preference immigrant visas and Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad.
Tier 4: All other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas.
In recognition of the COVID-delta variant, U.S. embassies and consular offices have been instructed that they may prioritize immigrant visas of certain healthcare professionals who will work at a facility engaged in pandemic response as emergencies on a case-by-case basis.