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How Has COVID-19 Affected My Immigrant Visa Interview and Am I Required to be Vaccinated?

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

Many U.S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents of the US are concerned about how much longer they will have to wait to reunite with a family member abroad. Many families have gone through the complicated consular processing of a family member abroad and were finally in line for an interview at a U.S. Embassy abroad when the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic struck. Embassies immediately shut down with no expected reopening date.

The American Immigration Council posted an article on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visa Interviews:

"The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly impacted the ability of foreign nationals to travel to the United States in any status. Beginning in February 2020, the Trump administration imposed five separate travel restrictions on individuals who had been present in certain countries where COVID-19 epidemics were occurring. As the pandemic spread, on March 20, 2020 the Department of State suspended “routine visa services” at all embassies and consulates worldwide, including cancelling all “immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments.” This suspension encompassed applicants for both employment-based and family-based immigrant visas, including the relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), as well as applicants for nonimmigrant visas for visitors, students, and skilled workers."

U.S. Embassies Abroad have slowly begun reopening and immigrant visa interviews are once again being scheduled. There are several new restrictions that come with interviews abroad. For visa applicants in the US who are traveling abroad, there are often periods of quarantine required by individual countries as well as COVID-19 testing days before traveling abroad.

As of a October 1, 2021, the U.S. government is also requiring the COVID vaccine for many types of visas. Here is the update from their website:

"Effective October 1, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Technical Instructions for panel physicians will require all immigrant visa applicants, all K fiancé(e) visa applicants, and nonimmigrant visa applicants who are referred to the panel physicians to receive a full COVID-19 vaccine series as part of their medical exam prior to being issued a visa. The CDC requires the COVID-19 vaccine to be approved through either the World Health Organization (WHO) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Blanket waivers for the COVID vaccination will be applied in countries where the vaccine is not routinely available or when the vaccine is not age appropriate. The Department of State encourages all immigrant visa applicants and others subject to a medical exam to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible to not experience delays in their visa processing."

If you have questions about how the COVID pandemic will affect your immigrant or non-immigrant visa, please contact Jaclyn K. O'Connor, P.A. We may be able to expedite your family members interview, if the expedite criteria is met. Please contact our offices at 954-530-9288 for a free consultation.

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