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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawUS Immigration LawCoronavirus (COVID-19): Suspension of US Visa Issuance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Suspension of US Visa Issuance

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing US Immigration and we are discussing it under the backdrop of this COVID-19 pandemic, this Coronavirus issue that we are all dealing with which basically is taking up all of our attention at the moment because quite frankly it is having tremendous ramifications in many different ways; most notably in this video with respect to US Immigration

In a recent article from Reuters, reuters.com, the article is titled US Suspending Visa Services Worldwide due to Coronavirus: State Department. Quoting directly: "The United States is suspending all routine Visa Services as of Wednesday (and this is dated March 19th so that was during this past week), in most countries worldwide due to the Coronavirus outbreak. A Spokeswoman for the State Department said in an unprecedented move that will potentially impact hundreds of thousands of people."  Quoting further: "The Department did not say which or how many countries are halting services." 

So to specifically get into issues regarding the US Embassy here in Bangkok, the following announcement was sent to us at our office regarding a few of our cases. Quoting directly and this came from the Immigrant Visa Unit of the United States Embassy here in Bangkok. Quoting directly: "Information for Immigrant Visa applicants regarding Novel Coronavirus. As of March 19th, 2020, the United States Embassy and Consulate in Thailand are canceling Immigrant Visa appointments until further notice. We will resume routine Immigrant Visa Services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time. Once we resume Immigrant Visa operations, we will contact you with a new appointment date. Applicants who had their Immigrant visa interviews cancelled due to the cessation of operation will be given first priority for rescheduling."  So that is where we stand here locally. We are currently sort of in a shutdown with respect to the sort of the end of the US Visa process; that is the issuance of the Visa itself.

Now I am going to do another video on this in more detail but something to take away from this video. It is still possible to file for Visa benefits and those who are currently looking to get the process started, we generally see folks who have met someone here in Thailand especially in the fiancée context, met someone here in Thailand perhaps over the high season, over the winter months from the Western country especially in the United States, and they were over here for high season, they met someone and they are looking to maybe get a fiancée visa back to the United States. This is not going to impact filing of those cases, it is only impacting the end of the process and by the time those folks who are filing now get around to the end of the process, I suspect this backlog will be cleared. I have dealt with backlogs associated with Visa processing before. I dealt with it in the context of Government shutdowns for example. I have also dealt with it in the context of certain Thailand specific issues wherein the Visa unit shut down briefly because there were certain things going on in Thailand that caused them to move their facilities for temporary periods of time and it did cause backlogs. These backlogs will be I think substantial but I suspect they will be cleared by the time we are dealing with cases coming into the end run, for example the end run of a processing time on a K-1 Visa, or an Immigrant Spouse visa for that matter. 

So I don't think that this should be viewed as being a dissuasive video for those who are looking to start the Visa process but for the folks that are in the middle of it, yes this is certainly not good news. We are continuing to work here. Our offices are still operating. We are working remotely where it is warranted but for now as you can see, I am here making videos, doing what we always do. We are going to continue to work for our clients and keep things going and we are going to have these cases chambered and ready when the Visa unit becomes fully operational again we are going to have these cases on hand to go ahead and move all that stuff through. We are going to continue filing cases for our clients so that things move through as smoothly as possible in cases moving forward. 

The thing to take away from this video for now, visas are not going to be issued by the US Embassy here in Thailand or for that matter, to the best of my understanding, basically any post around the world until further notice.