After enduring the COVID-19 pandemic for over a year, most U.S. embassies and consulates are not operating at full capacity. Due to limited appointment availability, a significant backlog was created for immigrant (IV) and nonimmigrant visa (NIV) applicants waiting for a visa interview. IVs are for those seeking to come to the United States permanently as a legal permanent resident or green card holder, while NIVs are for those individuals seeking to come to the United States temporarily. The Department of State (DOS) prioritizes serving U.S. citizens abroad, which means that foreign national visa applicants are not a top priority.
Among foreign national applicants, the DOS is prioritizing IV applications. However, as of May 2021, there were more than 500,000 IV applications in DOS’s backlog. The pace at which interviews can be scheduled depends on the volume, type of visa, local conditions, and government restrictions on movement and gathering. A reduced number of applicants are processed each day to abide by social distancing and other preventative measures. Once it is safe, routine visa services will resume.