Worldwide Visa Operations Are Recovering Faster than Expected from the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Department of State is successfully lowering visa interview wait times worldwide, following closures during the pandemic. DOS has doubled our hiring of U.S. Foreign Service personnel to do this important work, we are recovering faster than projected, and this year DOS will reach pre-pandemic processing levels.
Backlogs and Wait Times – How DOS Got Here
As for many service providers, the COVID-19 pandemic forced profound reductions in the Department’s visa processing capacity in two main ways. First, restrictions on travel to the United States, and local restrictions on public places like our overseas consular waiting rooms, curbed our ability to see visa applicants. As most applicants are required by U.S. law to appear in person, these restrictions forced a reduction in the number of visa applications the Department could process.
Second, as revenue from the application fees that fund visa processing operations was cut nearly in half, the Department was forced to leave more than 300 overseas consular officer positions unfilled in 2020 and 2021. This further reduced the number of visa applications we could process.