Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it has been nearly impossible to obtain Consular appointments for US citizens. Local lockdowns and other social distancing protocols have prompted the US Consulates and Embassies to scale back their operations to ensure public health and safety. This reduction of visa services has not only impacted immigrant and nonimmigrant applications but also US citizens and lawful permanent residents who are living abroad.
Almost 100,000 US citizens were unable to renew their US passports due to a scale back in operations by US embassies leading to a travel crisis for many. These Americans are stuck overseas until they can book an appointment to renew their passport. This is even more concerning for lawful permanent residents who are at risk of losing their status for staying overseas for over a year. Lawful permanent residents get denied entry to the US if they are returning from an abroad trip after more than a year unless they have a re-entry permit issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or a returning resident visa issued by a US Consulate abroad.
These residents have simply been unable to make travel arrangements to return to the US due to the worldwide border and travel restrictions imposed due to the global pandemic. Now, unless they can schedule an appointment to get a resident visa, these permanent residents are stuck overseas at risk of losing their status.
What Are the Current Backlog of Appointments At US Embassies and Consulates Abroad?
Almost 75% of all US Embassies and Consulates abroad have remained close as of late April 2021. The Department of State reported a backlog of almost 75,000 immigrant visa applications in January 2021. In February 2021, the backlog increased dramatically to 473,000 for immigrant visa applicants waiting for an interview appointment.