Navigating the Current Landscape of U.S. Visa Applications

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the process of obtaining a U.S. visa more challenging than ever before. This post aims to provide insights and advice on the current state of U.S. visa applications to help people navigate this complex landscape. 

Update on Work Authorization Visas 

The U.S. Department of State has made significant progress in reducing the backlog caused by its closures, particularly for work authorized visas. Processing times for these visas have improved, with durations ranging from a few days to a few months, which is a marked improvement from previous years. 

Challenges with Visitor Visas  

Applicants for visitor visas, including tourist and business visitor visas, still face considerable delays despite these advancements. Hundreds of thousands of applications are queued due to the pandemic-induced pause, and these visa categories are still grappling with extended processing times. The Department of State prioritizes U.S. citizen services, family reunification, and work authorization visas, leaving visitor visas lower on the list.  

Alternatives for Business Travelers  

Certain activities do not require a work authorized visa for business travelers. These activities include negotiating contracts, consulting with business associates, attending professional events, and undertaking independent research. International athletes visiting for tryouts may also enter on a B-1/B-2 visa.  

The Long Wait for Visitor Visa Interviews 

The backlog has resulted in exceedingly long wait times for visitor visa interviews in some countries, with schedules extending months or even years. As a workaround, qualifying individuals may consider obtaining work authorization visas for timely entry into the U.S. for business purposes.  

Visa Waiver Program and Special Cases 

Citizens from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) can travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days for business or tourism without a visa. Additionally, Canadian and Bermudian citizens enjoy certain visa exemptions, though there are notable exceptions, particularly concerning immigration processes and fianc├ęs of U.S. citizens. 

Exploring Third-Country National Applications 

For those facing long wait times, applying for a visa through U.S. diplomatic posts in nearby countries as a third-country national might be a viable alternative. This information is usually available on the respective U.S. Department of State’s country website.  


The U.S. visa application process is gradually returning to its pre-pandemic state, but challenges persist, especially for visitor visas. Applicants are encouraged to explore all options, including the possibility of applying for a work authorized visa or utilizing the Visa Waiver Program, where applicable. Staying informed and considering alternative routes can significantly enhance the chances of a timely and successful visa application. 

If you or your family members have any questions about how immigration and nationality laws in the United States may affect you, or if you want to access additional information about immigration and nationality laws in the United States or Canada, please do not hesitate to contact the immigration and nationality lawyers at NPZ Law Group. You can reach us by emailing or by calling us at 201-670-0006 extension 104. We also invite you to visit our website at for more information.