Why Is Visa Processing So Slow?


US Immigration Updates

visa processing times
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We’ve had a lot of questions about how long things are going to take to process, especially visas. Before the pandemic, when someone applied for a visa outside the US, visa processing times would take about 9-12 months. US Embassies and consulates issued about half a million visas every year. 

Right now, there are three things that have created a bottleneck for the processing of visas outside the US:

  • The pandemic is slowing things down tremendously. 
  • Staffing shortages have impacted how quickly things are being processed. 
  • A budget crisis at the U.S. State Department has made it more difficult to hire people to help speed things through. 

Proclamation 10014 and Proclamation 10052

Add in Proclamation 10014 (which suspended certain visa immigrants) and Proclamation 10052 (which suspended the entry of non-immigrant visas) that were put into place last year. 

Visa Processing Times

Visa processing is also taking forever. As you know, it has slowed to almost a standstill. President Biden did put some changes in place when he first came into office but has not reversed these proclamations yet. Recently, the State Department said that you must add one year to the normal processing times for all visas. 

What does that mean for you? That means that if before the pandemic it took 6-9 months, say for a K1 visa, you must add one YEAR to that so it will now take 1.5 to 2 years before you’ll be approved. Before the pandemic, it took about 11 – 14 months for a C1 visa, and now you must add one year to that time.  

Even if this administration ends both of these proclamations today, we know that the backlog that started with the previous presidential administration won’t go away overnight and may extend for years to come. 

If you’ve watched any of my immigration videos, I often talk about getting you or your loved ones to the head of the line. This is one of the reasons. The sooner you get your application in, and it’s accepted by DOS or USCIS, the faster your application is going to be processed.  

People think if they wait for things to start moving that will help them. If you do that, you are putting yourself at the end of a very long line. The longer you delay getting your application filed, the further from the head of the line you’ll be. 

If you’re planning to apply for a visa, get a green card, or become a U.S. Citizen, a New Jersey immigration attorney can help you with your application process and provide you with the legal assistance you need to prevent any delays in your visa processing times.

Visa Interview Backlog

Right now, the U.S. Department of State said there are more than 380,000 applicants waiting for interviews for their visa application. Consulates and embassies are short-staffed and are struggling to schedule immigration interviews.

Many people have had their applications approved by the National Visa Center, but the NVC isn’t even sending the application to the embassies to schedule the interviews because they don’t have the staff to accept the cases. The backlog is too big to handle. This is due to the previous administration doing everything they can to slow down visa processing.

Also, most embassies conduct interviews behind glass windows. They have very small waiting rooms, and usually have a maximum of two consular officers per post.

Add in the pandemic, which limits how many people can enter or be in the waiting area at a time. As you can imagine, this is making it almost impossible for the consulates, even those that are open, to catch up with the backlog of interviews they need to do, and they need to go very fast.

Update from the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association

The American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA) released information to its members after a meeting with the State Department. They were told that each consulate and embassy is going to open on their own terms, based on their individual conditions, including staffing and resources, and country conditions. I wish I had better news, but these backlogs could take years to overcome.

What can you do right now?  

  • Be patient. I know this is easier said than done. You miss your family and you’re frustrated with the delays. We understand. However, getting angry won’t help your application go faster. 
  • Get your application in. Yes, the lines are long, but the sooner you get your application means you are at least in line. 
  • Submit the best application with the strongest evidence possible. Do everything you can to make sure your application won’t be rejected.

We have people ask us all the time, “What if I’m missing this or that?” If you’re missing something, GET IT.  

If you have something in your background that you think might keep you from being approved, FIX IT. 

Sending in an incomplete application and hoping that immigration doesn’t notice will not only delay the processing but may also cost you more money.

Which Embassies Are Open Right Now?

We have people asking us all the time, “Which embassies are taking appointments right now?”

Remember, I talked about President Biden signing an executive order ending the Muslim Ban when he first got into office. What this allowed for was for those in predominantly Muslim countries to start getting visas again.  

There was another important section of this proclamation, Section 2. It specifically said that “The Secretary of State should direct all embassies and consulates to resume processing visas in a manner consistent with their location.”

Remember, in December there was an order for over 89 consulates and embassies to reopen by the end of 2021.  

As far as specific embassies and consulates, in February 2021, we know that: 

  1. The Frankfurt, Germany embassy (including expedited applications) is processing applications quickly. 
  2. The United Kingdom embassy is also fast and allowing for expedited applications. 
  3. Mexico – Juarez is very effective in processing applications and expedite requests quickly as well. 
  4. The best embassy in Africa is Kenya

Unfortunately, we also have a few that we know are NOT doing well. 

  1. Moscow is terrible – if you have an application for an expedited application and you can, we recommend that you transfer it to Poland who has a much better rate of approvals. 
  2. In the PhilippinesManilla isn’t processing K1 or any other visas right now. We know when they are processing, they are very slow, to begin with. We have heard they only conduct 50 interviews a month when they are conducting any. 
  3. Nigeria is very difficult to appeal to. 
  4. In the Middle East, people are not having much success. In Afghanistan, Iran, and Bangladesh, people are experiencing very slow wait times and very little response when trying to get in touch with someone. 
  5. Mumbai and Pakistan have processed some expedited cases, but they require lots of follow-ups via email to get anything done. 

We have people ask us about specific embassies all the time. Unfortunately, unless we have a client going to one or find out another way, we can’t know about all of them.  

If you have a case with a specific embassy, please check with them yourself. You need to keep trying to move your application forward.  

How a New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Can Help

If you’re planning to process your visa application, it’s important that you discuss your case with a competent immigration lawyer to assist with your visa requirements. Our experienced New Jersey immigration attorney at Andres Mejer Law can help you understand the immigration process, submit your visa application forms, and get you your United States citizenship status. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!

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