Resume Visa Processing at US Consulate Montreal
Resume Visa Processing at US Consulate Montreal
Hundreds of Canadians are heartbroken and devastated as they wait for information from the US Consulate Montreal for information on their visa interviews. Husbands, wives, children, and fiances are separated from their families in the US and they have no idea when they will see them again. Please sign this petition in support of these families to encourage the US Consulate Montreal to begin reopening and providing visa services to families.
As of March 17 2020 the US Consulate in Montreal closed its doors as many other businesses around the world did in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The US Embassy Consulate Montreal has provided zero updates to those waiting for information about interviews that were cancelled and interviews that were ready to be scheduled. Many have attempted to contact them seeking information on their reopening. They no longer accept phone calls. They give scripted responses and non-answers in email correspondence, leaving us more discouraged than before. Generally, their statements maintain that the consulate will reopen based on local conditions. They also provide a link to an update on the State Department website that has not been updated since March 20. “In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates may now enter a phased resumption of visa services. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services and will resume routine visa services as local conditions and resources allow.” Read here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/suspension-of-routine-visa-services.html
On June 22 Presidential Proclamation 10014 was issued suspending the entry of non-immigrants and some immigrants to the United States. Exceptions to this proclamation include: “certain healthcare professionals, aliens seeking to enter the United States pursuant to an EB5 investor visa, spouses and children (categories IR1, CR1, IR2, CR2, IR3, IH3, IR4, IH4)”. Additionally, the proclamation states that family and spouse visas are mission critical and can be processed as an exemption to the proclamation. “Mission-critical immigrant visa categories include applicants who may be eligible for an exception under these presidential proclamations, such as: IR/CR1, IR/CR2”. The Consulate has not honoured what is written in the proclamation and continues to deny processing mission critical family visas. Instead they treat them as emergency expedites which is not the same as mission-critical. Read here:
As evidenced by the growing number of businesses that are open and the allowance of large gatherings in Quebec and Montreal, it is clear that local conditions are more than favourable for the consulate to begin phased reopening. Businesses are adapting and finding a “new normal”. The consulate does not appear to be adapting. Our hearts break everyday as we search for updates across Facebook, Twitter and government websites with little success. What we do see is that there are some consulates around the world in locations who have been impacted by Covid-19 and have been able to process family visas. When viewing the June Monthly Visa Issuance Statistics, you can see that some countries have put forth a real effort to reunite families during this crisis. These countries include; Philippines (67) , Germany (64), Jamaica (154), Italy (27), El Salvador (72), Dominican Republic (189), Japan (44). Montreal processed only three family visas during the month of June.
Read Here: https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/Statistics/Immigrant-Statistics/MonthlyIVIssuances/June%202020%20-%20IV%20Issuances%20by%20Post%20and%20Visa%20Class.pdf
For comparison, according to Google Statistics on August 6, Canada had a total of 118 000 confirmed Covid cases. The Philippines has 119 000 though their testing per capita is extremely low so cases are likely much higher. Germany has 214 000. Italy has 249 000.
Conditions in Quebec:
On May 4th Quebec started a gradual reopening on a sector-by-sector basis as cases began to decline in the province. Montreal has had a more gradual reopening due to higher cases in that region. As of August 6 2020 the majority of businesses both essential and non-essential are open. A list of a few non-essential businesses that are now open (with precautions) include:
- Festivals and events with a maximum of 250 people
- Amusement parks & water parks
- Tourist accommodations
Read here: https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/reopening-maintaining-economic-activities-covid-19/
The Montreal Consulate seems to maintain that local conditions are not favourable for reopening, yet have failed to provide information on what criteria needs to be met in order for them to begin their phased reopening; nor have they released the framework for their reopening plan. At the same time, employees of the consulate have been active in the Montreal community. As seen on their facebook page, on July 2 they attended the Moisson Montreal food bank to volunteer to sort food donations. A very worthy cause during a pandemic. However, it has raised questions as to how the consulate finds it acceptable to stand in close quarters (not socially distanced) and sort thousands of food donations and at the same time not begin to take meaningful steps toward safely reopening the consulate.
As of August 6, the State Department has lifted their level 4 global advisory on avoiding international travel. This ban has been in place for over four months and is being lifted now due to the fact that conditions have improved greatly in some countries. Lifting the Level 4 "Do Not Travel" advisory in Canada should indicate that conditions are right to resume operations in an increased capacity. Read here:https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/06/politics/state-department-level-4-advisory-lifted/index.html?fbclid=IwAR3V06ayxMyhq2Ya2FphWTg61YZgXWMi9Njh9wjZilER1woeRsZgbcaBefk
And here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2020/08/06/us-state-department-lifts-do-not-travel-international-advisory/3310952001/?fbclid=IwAR1Z_Rav-JbruPPFXq5hpagpPX9OlaZl6sNYRzl-ZL-2N_tgaQYjnV_0l8o
The impacts felt by families who are separated in Canada and the US can not be overstated. In one of the most uncertain times of our lives, we are alone. The emotional, mental and financial toll grows heavier everyday as we wait for good news that never seems to come. Many Canadians and Americans have had their families to lean on for support during the pandemic. That is not the case for those waiting on the US Consulate. Parents are missing their children, unable to protect and care for them. Spouses are unable to comfort and support each other emotionally and financially and provide stability. We are suffering mental health declines as the light at the end of our tunnel seems to grow darker, despite the fact that the world is adapting and reopening. Many have been involved in the immigration process for over a year and were expecting to be with their family and begin their lives together this year. This is the scariest time of our lives and we have no idea when it will end.
What you can do:
Sign and share this petition. Help to spread awareness that will hopefully inspire the Montreal Consulate to do more. The Consulate needs to begin phased reopening and begin processing mission-critical visas as directed in the presidential proclamation. Write or call your government representatives; MPPs, MPs, Premiers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Congressmen, Senators, President Donald Trump, etc. Your support may have a direct impact on the lives of so many families. Petitions such as this have worked in spreading awareness for families who were unable to cross the US-Canada border, it can help with this issue as well. Thank you for your support and time in reading about this crisis affecting thousands.