The United States Department of State has announced that all routine visa services will be suspended on a temporary and indefinite basis, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent weeks, multiple countries have announced a hold on non-emergency services and appointments. This is the first announcement putting a hold on all routine services around the world.

The world-wide policy, taking place immediately, includes the following stipulations and clarifications:

  • As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide urgent and emergency visa services;
  • Services to U.S. citizens continue to be available;
  • The Visa Waiver Program is not affected by this suspension; and
  • Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fees remain valid and may be used for visa appointments in the country where the transaction was processed within one year of payment.

This is an unprecedented situation, with new developments occurring all the time. The most up-to-date and country-specific guidance is available on individual Embassy websites.

The announcement states that normal operations and routine services will resume “as soon as possible,” though as of yet there is no specific timeframe.