Re-Open US Consulates for General Visa Appointments (Allowing Foreign Nationals to Travel)

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Re-Open US Consulates for General Visa Appointments (Allowing Foreign Nationals to Travel)

This petition made change with 5,836 supporters!

Anonymous NA started this petition to U.S. Department of State

VISA APPOINTMENTS FOR FOREIGN NATIONALS

A foreign national with a non-immigrant visa would need to get the visa stamped in their home country in order to be able to enter the US. In non-covid times, this would mean giving an in-person interview at their closest US Consulate where they present their case with paperwork and answer the consular officers questions. However during COVID, with the consulates being closed, people who need a stamp to enter the country are stuck in their home country until the consulates open for regular appointments.

As for people who are in US but do not have a valid stamp yet, traveling outside US means they will also be stuck in their home country. This is extremely painful for foreign nationals in US who have families back home and they cannot visit their family even in excruciating circumstances like a loved one passing away. On the other side, there are people who have a spouse and kid in the US, and traveling outside means being separated from their family.

CURRENT CONTEXT

US consulates closed globally in March 2020 in response to the pandemic, although they have resumed emergency appointments from July 2020, there is no certain date when they will resume general services.

The current wait time for consulates to open is approximately another year (based on interview availability on Embassy websites), i.e., people who are stuck in their home country would have been stuck for over 20 months.

CURRENT DISTRESS

Many of these people have already lost their US jobs as employers cannot hold positions, or they eventually will over the course of 20 months. This also means that many of these people who have been away from their spouse and kids, would have missed their family's birthdays, anniversaries and much much more in those 20 months.

On the other side, people who are in US would not be able to travel back home for over 20 months until they can be sure that they can travel without the fear of not getting a consulate interview appointment. I have come across many cases where one's family member passed away in their home country but they couldn't even go home to attend their funeral, because they did not want to leave their kids in US knowing they will get stuck if they were to travel.

ASK

We would like to offer constructive ideas on how to facilitate the re-opening consulates while COVID remains present; this can be done by significantly mitigating risk to consular staff and visa holders. We propose that the US Department of State move to: 

1. Conduct interviews on Zoom as an alternative to in-person interviews. Necessary original documents could be dropped off at the consulate several days prior to an interview, and picked up with the stamped passport several days later.

2. Prioritize getting vaccines to consular staff so that consulates can be opened sooner for general services. 

3. Allow for consular services and passport stamping to occur in the United States. For people stuck in the US and unable to return to their home country, this would allow visa renewals happen confidently on their terms in America - and not on the whims and shifting timelines of the embassies abroad. 

We need everyone to come together to sign this petition, hoping the US Department of State takes some action in this regard, and enable millions of people affected by this to be able to see their families.

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This petition made change with 5,836 supporters!