US Embassy suspends routine visa interviews
Q. What types of services are the Consular Section at the US Embassy in Kingston currently providing?
A. The Consular Section at the US Embassy in Kingston provides US and Jamaican citizens with a range of services. From processing passports to visas, the Consular Section understands the importance of our work and has strived to provide services over the past year, although at much reduced levels due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, the many challenges presented by the pandemic mean that we expect to have extended wait times for many of our services for the foreseeable future. Because of this, we caution people against paying visa fees for routine appointments that may be later than their planned travel dates. Like many US embassies and consulates around the world, Embassy Kingston’s Consular Section is providing services currently, but at significantly lower levels to mitigate health risks. The Consular Section continues to provide emergency assistance to US citizens and is accepting limited appointments for citizenship services, including US passports. The Immigrant Visa (IV) Unit is scheduling a limited number of in-person interviews each day, prioritising mission-critical cases and petitions for the spouses and children of US citizens. The Non-immigrant Visa (NIV) Unit has suspended routine visa interviews, but NIV is also processing cases that qualify for interview waiver, including renewals of full-validity tourist visas that have expired within the last 24 months.
Q. When will the Consular Section have full operations?
A. We do not know at this time when we will be able to resume the full range of routine consular services. The extended reduction in our public services due to COVID-19, along with the legally mandated suspension of processing for some visa categories, has created a significant backlog of cases. As a result, there will likely be extended wait times for many consular services for the foreseeable future.
As we make plans for our work moving forward, we will first focus on continuing to assist US citizens in emergency situations and with citizenship services. Second, we understand the importance of reuniting families through the immigrant visa process and will devote significant resources to work through immigrant visa cases as quickly as possible. Lastly, for non-immigrant visas, we will prioritise mission-critical, life-and-death emergencies, temporary employment categories, student visas, and interview waiver cases. We encourage non-immigrant visa applicants who do not qualify for these priority categories to wait to schedule visa appointments until such time as we resume routine visa processing and an appointment can be scheduled that is well in advance of your planned travel.
The US Embassy in Kingston has always taken pride in its ability to provide consular services in a courteous and efficient manner, and we look forward, anxiously, to the time when circumstances allow us to return to providing the timely services that our applicants rightly expect. In the meantime, we thank everyone for their continued patience and understanding.
The latest information on our operating status can be found on our website at www.jm.usembassy.gov or by visiting www.travel.state.gov. Keep on top of Embassy news on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/USEmbassyJamaica/ and by following @USEmbassyJA on Twitter. We also answer general consular questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
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