According to a notice posted by the State Department Visa Office, the U.S. State Department is suspending all “routine” visa services in most countries as of March 18 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The notice advises to check the website of the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate for its current operating status. On March 19, the State Department issued a worldwide level 4 travel advisory.

Key points:

  • Visa applicants should anticipate suspension of nonimmigrant and immigrant visa services in most countries worldwide. U.S. embassies and consulates at those locations will cancel visa appointments as of March 18.
  • U.S. citizens are advised to avoid all international travel.
  • The suspension in visa services does not affect the visa waiver program (ESTA).
  • The State Department directs those requiring emergency appointments to follow guidance at the relevant U.S. embassy website. The agency says that it will continue to process “urgent and emergency” requests, but does not define those terms.

Background: The State Department has already suspended visa services at numerous consulates around the world, and travelers from 30 countries are currently under entry bans to the U.S.

BAL Analysis: Employers and visa applicants should plan for significant delays as travel becomes increasingly curtailed and as more U.S. consulates suspend visa services.

BAL has prepared an FAQ that discusses the implications of the measures that have been taken in response to the outbreak on U.S. immigration law. Read the full FAQ here.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

Copyright © 2020 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact