As per the recent announcement by the State Department on July 13, visa services are to resume by U.S. embassies and consulates around the world soon. Since March 20, routine visa services have been suspended at all U.S. missions, allowing only for life-and-death emergency appointments.

The Trump administration began a slew of restrictive immigration policies the moment the administration gained power from implementing strict discretionary policies towards denying H-1B visas to prohibiting the issuance of new work visas through the end of the year at the US consulates abroad. This worldwide suspension of U.S. visas, except for emergency cases, has been one of several ways the Trump administration has severely restricted immigration and travel to the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Administration has also suspended new work visas including the H-1B, H-2B, L, and certain J visas through Dec. 31. While the H-1B visas are for highly skilled employees in fields such as science, technology, and engineering, the H-2B visas are for seasonal workers like manufacturing or food processing, and the J visa is for camp counselors and teachers,

The Trump administration engaged in a failed attempt to further limit visas by trying to bar international students from taking classes fully online this fall semester, even as several U.S. universities move to online-only coursework because of the uncontrolled outbreak in several states. That decision has been challenged in court by more than a dozen states and over 200 universities and the administration was finally forced to rescind this policy as it was viewed to “hurt” students by forcing exposure to the pandemic on campuses around the country and/or create further hotspots.

So far, no embassy or consulate has announced plans to resume visa services as yet and many posts are faced with other issues including staff shortages and crowded wait rooms although emergency appointments for life/death situations are only permitted.

A real solution to the US consulate reopening at full force will hinge on the availability of a vaccine to Covid-19. Many drug companies have already been successful in the first to second trial stages and the world eagerly awaits the final results. We at Emandi Law Firm look forward to the positive impact of a controlled pandemic on the health of the world population and the efficient resumption of visa services across the globe.

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