The global pandemic has caused immigration backlogs both at home and abroad. U.S. consulates have been forced to close or work at limited capacity. Fortunately, visa operations have resumed in many countries. However, consulate closures have created a large backlog. To address this, consulates now prioritize certain case types as they work through the backlog. The government separates applications into the following four tiers:

  • Tier One: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), certain Special Immigrant Visas, and emergency cases as determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Tier Two: Immediate relative (spouses, parents, and children of U.S. citizens) and fiancé(e) visas;
  • Tier Three: Family preference immigrant visas;
  • Tier Four: All other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas.

Fortunately, we have seen processing times start to improve for interview appointments. Consular sections are scheduling some appointments within all four tiers every month. Applicants who must travel to the U.S. immediately due to a serious emergency may be eligible to request an emergency appointment. The government accepts requests for an emergency appointment on a case-by-case basis. Consulates have been instructed to prioritize emergency appointments for healthcare professionals who will help with the pandemic response.