On July 9th, 2021, there was a meeting between AILA and the Department of State (DOS) Liaison Committee about visa backlogs and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the takeaways from the AILA meeting about the DOS backlog and delays. The Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group Continue to monitor the backlogs and delays and work closely with their colleagues at AILA to seek resolutions for their clients concerning same.
Here are some of the interesting facts about the present visa processing landscape:
Lay of the Land:
There was a discussion on the state of and nonimmigrant visa (NIV) and immigrant visa (IV) issuance. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, there has been an 80% decrease in the issuance of NIV, a 70% decrease in the issuance of IV, and the visa backlog at the National Visa Center contains more than 506,000 documentarily qualified applications that are yet to be interviewed.
Rescinding Regional Travel Bans Due to COVID-19:
AILA urged that rescinding regional COVID-19 travel bans would have the greatest effect on reducing the backlog and alleviating the burden on consular posts. It would eliminate the NIE process, enable documentarily qualified cases to proceed, and open consular resources. AILA urged the Biden Administration to incorporate science-based methods, including, COVID-19 testing, vaccination requirements, and quarantining instead of regional travel bans.
Inconsistency Within DOS and CBP Locations in Processing of National Interest Exceptions:
AILA explained that there’s considerable inconsistency with the adjudication of NIEs across various posts and ports and among adjudicating officers at a specific location. Thus, AILA explained the necessity for standardizing the NIE process, ensuring all NIE requests are processed and adjudicated within each agency. Moreover, that communication among agencies must occur before major policy announcements.
Stateside Visa Processing of Renewals:
AILA explained that stateside processing should return and DOS must leverage stateside consular officers to address staffing constraints and enable processing to resume.
Extend Expired Visas during the COVID-19 pandemic by 24 Months Automatically:
AILA discussed how important it is for the DOS to provide an automatic extension of 24 months for NIVs to reduce backlogs. It further explained that visa renewal applicants have been vetted via visa application processes.
Remote Processing of Low Fraud Risk Cases and Increase the Use of Interview Waivers:
AILA urged continuing interview waiver eligibility, and it brought up the remote processing’s benefits, especially for low fraud risk cases.
Preventing the Loss of Visa Numbers:
AILA stated that the solutions presented would allow DOS to process cases with greater efficiency, which would prevent the loss of immigrant visa numbers by September 30th, 2021. This is especially true for the FY21 Diversity Visa numbers. In addition, AILA explained that visa numbers must be allocated earlier in the process to ensure the full use of visa numbers.
These are the major takeaways from the AILA meeting about the DOS backlog and delays. Again, the Immigration of Nationality Lawyers at the Nachman, Phulwani, Zimovcak Law Group remain deeply concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and continue to work to ensure the safety of our staff and our clients. However, we continue to also be very concerned about the extent to which the present delays and backlogs will impact our economy and allow other countries to take advantage of the world-wide brain drain.
If you should have any questions or need more information about the ways in which the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, your friends or your colleagues, please contact the U.S