This last year has been exceptionally hard on US immigration, due to the global pandemic shutting down immigration services and the travel restriction measures. Former President Trump’s immigration policies also made it several times harder for many immigrants to reach their goals.
All of this has resulted in a visa backlog of almost 2.6 million applications. This backlog can also be attributed to the increased capacity of many immigrant categories, which has increased by 50 to 100 times in the last 4 years. However, as President Biden works hard to undo the many anti-immigration policies introduced by the Trump administration, let’s take a look at what factors caused this substantial backlog.
Which US Immigration Policies Resulted in a Visa Application Backlog?
The Covid-19 virus that swept the globe in 2020 started a global pandemic affecting almost everyone in the world. It has harmed many countries’ immigration systems and processes since travel restrictions and border control was imposed as a measure to control the spread of the virus.
Last year during March, the United States had to suspend in-person visa services due to a spike in the number of people affected by the virus. After a month, the Trump administration extended a proclamation to stop most immigrants from coming to the US without a visa. Even though the US consulate and embassies gradually began their operations, most services were still suspended except for emergency services.
A visa interview is an essential part of getting a visa to the US. Before the virus gained traction in January 2020, the Department of State scheduled around 22,856 visa interviews for the applicants to the family-preference categories. This category alone suffered a nearly 99% drop in 2021.
In January 2021, only 262 such visa interviews were scheduled.
Many US immigration attorneys claimed that State Department officials were using temporary pandemic bans on certain regions to deny a visa to applicants. However, this policy was recently reversed for the applicants of the K-1 Fiance visas and immigrant visas for permanent residence. More changes are expected to get the visa interviews back in full speed again.