State Department Cannot Stop Visa Adjudication Due to COVID-19 Travel Bans, Federal Judge Rules

The State Department can’t depend on presidential proclamations to refuse to adjudicate visas, Judge James E. Boasberg within the U.S. District Court docket for the D.C. District has held.

Judge Boasberg mentioned nothing about what the State Department wants to do in keeping with its opinion, however established that the Administration’s journey restrictions did not include visa restrictions.

Because the issuance of the Presidential Proclamations limiting the entry of overseas nationals who’ve spent any time throughout the 14 days prior to their entry in over 30 international locations (China, Iran, the UK and Eire, the Schengen Zone international locations, Brazil, South Africa and India), most U.S. Consulates overseas have been refusing to concern and even schedule visa interview appointments for people who don’t qualify for Nationwide Curiosity Exceptions (NIEs) to the Proclamation. This has meant that even overseas nationals who have been prepared to wait out the 14 days in non-restricted international locations would have issue getting a visa. It was a Catch-22. In the event that they stayed in a restricted nation, they won’t get a visa as a result of they didn’t qualify for an NIE and in the event that they went to a non-restricted nation, they won’t get visas as a result of they have been third-country nationals.

The court recognized that this complete concern could quickly turn out to be moot as a result of the Biden Administration has mentioned that the 14-day journey restrictions can be lifted in early November. However even when the restrictions are lifted and the Consulates return to issuing visas moderately than NIEs, it’s probably that backlogs and delays will persist.

Visa processing at U.S. Consulates overseas was successfully suspended from March via July 2020. Since then, Consulates began a phased resumption of providers. Nonetheless, providers are nonetheless not absolutely restored due to varied COVID-19 restrictions overseas and lots of U.S. Consulates will not be even absolutely staffed. As Consulates depend on visa charges moderately than authorities funding, some have been unable to rent new workers due to the shortage of charges. Which means it might be tough for Consulates to workers up to eradicate backlogs.

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