I need an earlier visa appointment at a U.S. Consulate. Can I request an expedite appointment?

If you recently submitted a non-immigrant visa application to a U.S. Consulate abroad (e.g. an E-2 investor application), you may be wondering when your visa interview will be scheduled. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 global pandemic and always changing situation at U.S. Consulates abroad, it is very hard to predict when exactly you will be able to get an appointment. Before Covid, the Consulates used to have estimated visa interview timelines on their websites, and visa applicants had some idea as to when they will be able to schedule an appointment. These timelines are unfortunately no longer applicable and the Consulates currently do not specify how long it will take to get a visa appointment.

Currently, the extent of Consular operations varies from Consulate to Consulate, but here are some examples as to the extent of Consular operations:

  • some Consulates are not accepting certain types of visa applications at all (g. the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul is currently not accepting E-2 visa applications);
  • some Consulates are accepting visa applications, but are not scheduling routine visa appointments at this time (they are only scheduling emergency visa appointments) ;
  • some Consulates are accepting visa applications and are scheduling routine visa appointments, but due to limited staff, it may take several months to get a visa appointment.

Many of our clients are wondering whether it is possible to request an expedite appointment. Many Consulates list the following reasons how someone can qualify for an expedite appointment:

  1. An immediate relative’s death, grave illness or life threatening accident taking place in the United States;
  2. Urgent medical treatment for the applicant or their minor child;
  3. An applicant for a student or exchange visitor (F/M/J) visa whose I-20 or DS-2019 has a start date that is earlier than the first available visa appointment;
  4. An unexpected need to travel to the United States for urgent business purposes that is occurring within 10 days after the first available visa appointment;
  5. An unexpected visit that is of significant cultural, political, journalistic, sporting or economic importance that is occurring within 10 days after the first available visa appointment.

 

Please note that some Consulates can list other specific reasons for an expedite appointment, so you should reach out to the Consulate you are applying at to see how you could qualify for an expedite appointment.

Please note that the Expedite Request is completely discretionary and a Consular Officer can either grant or deny your request based on the facts and evidence you present for the expedite appointment. It’s been our experience that the Consular Officers grant the expedite appointments only when they see a real emergency and not in cases when someone has been waiting for a long time, but there is no real emergency to come to the U.S.

Example

You are applying for an E-2 investor visa. You already sold your business in your home country and you have been waiting for your E-2 visa appointment for 3 months now. You really want to move to the U.S. and start running your E-2 business.

Please note that in this scenario, unless you can explain and provide evidence that there is an unexpected business need to travel to the U.S., the Consulate would probably not grant you an expedite appointment. When proving that there is an unexpected need to travel for business reasons, you should explain in detail how was this unexpected. Additionally, you should explain in detail why it’s important that you travel to the U.S. (e.g. if your company will suffer a big loss, you will loose employees, you will loose a big business deal that would substantially benefit the U.S. economy etc.).

Please note that as Covid-19 situation in specific cities/countries improves, we expect that the Consulates will start processing the visa applications faster and the wait time for an interview will decrease. Please keep in mind that the extent of Consular operations always depends on what is the specific situation in your country (e.g. if the city the Consulate is located in is under a lockdown, the Consulate will either be completely closed or will only be providing extremely limited services).

You can read our blog post on requesting expedite appointment with USCIS when you click here.

If you already have a valid visa/valid ESTA, you may qualify for a National Interest Exception. Please see our blog post on this topic when you click here.

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