U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria Suspends Operations
Effective February 6, 2012, the U.S. Embassy has suspended operations and is not open for normal consular services. Neither U.S. passports nor visas to the United States will be issued in Damascus. The Polish Embassy in Damascus has agreed to assist U.S. citizens remaining in Syria by providing limited consular services.
In response to the current situation in Syria, the U.S. Embassy is no longer accepting I-130 petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. The Immigrant Visa (IV) Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, will be the designated processing post for Syrian visa cases until further notice. All I-130 petitions that do not fall into the immediate relative category must be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the United States. There are no exceptions. http://damascus.usembassy.gov/visas.html
Embassy of the United States, China-Important Changes
Due to an executive order signed by President Obama earlier this year, there are important change to U.S. visa procedures in China. These changes will benefit many thousands of Chinese visa applicants and significantly reduce wait times for interviews in China. As of February 2012, wait times at all posts in China are less than six days.
A quick look at some of the changes include:
- Assigning 50 new consular officers.
- In a few months, the former Embassy consular facility located in the first Diplomatic Neighborhood of Beijing will re-open. Reopening this facility will increase interviewing capacity in Beijing by 50 percent.
- In select circumstances, some qualified foreign visitors who were interviewed and thoroughly screened in conjunction with a prior visa application may be eligible to renew their visas without undergoing another interview. This new pilot program permits consular officers to waive interviews for some qualified nonimmigrant applicants worldwide who are renewing their visa within 48 months of the expiration of their previously held visa, and within the same classification as the previous visa.
While this new initiative will open as many as 100,000 appointments for first time visa applicants, consular officers continue to have the authority to interview any applicant who they determine requires a personal interview.©2013 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. All rights reserved.