The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq is among the many COVID-related closures of U.S. consulates that have stranded immigrants around the globe.
As this pandemic keeps borders shut, closed consulates are the biggest barrier for many, couples are separated, H-1B workers and students remain stuck outside the U.S. as coronavirus shutdown extends into the fourth month.
When Natasha Bhat rushed to India after her father-in-law died in late February, she didn’t think that returning to her residence in Fremont, California would be a problem. But when she tried to get her H-1B visa stamped at the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata India, they were closed.
Ms. Bhat, who works in human sources at a tech startup, had quickly packed just one small bag and left with her husband and 4-year-old son.
Her husband, also an H-1B visa holder, was in a position to have his visa stamped March 13 to return. However Ms. Bhat’s appointment a day later was canceled when the consulate shut down. They are just one of the many families affected by the closures.
The fact, people have been unable to schedule consular appointments since March — to get their visas stamped or to complete required interviews — are affecting “hundreds of thousands of people worldwide based on the average number of visas the State Department issued each month during the last fiscal year.”
Since late January, in response to the pandemic, the Trump administration has enacted a patchwork system of journey and immigration restrictions barring foreigners from some international locations—China, Brazil, and most of Europe—from getting into, in addition to some household of U.S. residents seeking to immigrate.
This week, President Trump barred a number of hundred thousand folks on a slate of pending employment-based visas from immigrating by way of the top of the 12 months.
The WSJ does a good job of explaining that these hurdles are a direct result of COVID-related precautions on the part of the U.S. State Department. Thus, this is a problem that has been brewing since the start of the nation’s response to the outbreak in mid-March.
As such, the problems PRE-date by months the President’s new efforts to pause employment-based migration.
The article notes that for one international student, delays in processing may delay educational opportunities in the fall. If his experience is being replicated around the globe, it’s entirely possible we’re going to see our first dip in international student enrollment in many years.
In observe, nevertheless, practically every foreigner wishing to journey to the U.S. faces an easy however impassable hurdle: Most American embassies and consulates stay closed. Whereas an exact determine is tough to estimate, a whole bunch of hundreds of individuals worldwide could also be caught since March as a result of they will get their visas stamped or attend the required interviews to have visas issued, primarily based on the typical variety of visas the State Division issued every month over the last fiscal 12 months.
The pause in regular visa processing, which has been in impact since mid-March, means couples, engaged or married, can’t reunite, the staff is being removed from their jobs or members of the family, and worldwide college students are worried as the autumn semester approaches.
As of now, many can’t schedule an interview at the American embassy till at the least mid-September.