Traveling to the United States during the pandemic has been difficult, especially for those who are under severe travel restrictions following President Biden’s extension of Trump-era travel bans. Attention has been drawn to the misguided purpose of these travel bans during both Trump’s presidency and the Biden administration.
While these bans have been put in place to limit against the spread of COVID-19, studies show there is little evidence to support their effectiveness toward that outcome. Even for those who currently hold a U.S. visa, there have been very few ways around these bans. Last month, AMOpportunities published a piece on the potential use of a National Interest Exemption letter for those traveling in the interest of public health. However, this option only applies to those who currently hold a valid U.S. visa or are traveling from a visa-exempt ESTA country.
What if I don’t have a visa?
If you do not currently hold a U.S. visa, depending on your passport country and the visa type you are applying for, you may be able to receive a visa through traditional means. However, even for those not from a country under current travel ban restrictions, accessing a visa is difficult. Consulate closures, full or partially, affect roughly 71% of all visa applicants.
You can use this tool from the U.S. department of state for an estimated visa appointment wait time at your nearest U.S. consulate or embassy. Most AMO visitors travel on a B-1 visa. Please note that these times are estimates and can change suddenly. They are not a long-term projection of appointment wait times. Additionally, not all visas can be processed the same day as appointments.
In certain cases, however, visas will only be available through an expedited visa appointment. There are instances where you can apply for an expedited emergency visa appointment if your reason for travel necessitates it.
What does this mean for my AMO rotation?
If you do not currently have a U.S. visa and you have already reserved a rotation, an expedited interview appointment opens the possibility that you will be able to earn a visa that will allow you to travel to the U.S. Current policies allow visa applicants to apply for an expedited visa appointment if they are traveling for a number of reasons, including:
- Medical emergencies
- Funeral or death
- ESTA denial
- Business-related training
- A student beginning school within 60 days
Depending on your rotation type, visitors might qualify for an expedited, emergency visa appointment through the training or student options. You will be required to provide documents proving your emergency or need to travel. Your current AMO Coach may be able to help you determine which option is best for your individual situation.
To apply for an expedited appointment, proceed through the typical visa application process by paying visa application fees and completing and submitting the DS-160 form. You may find expedited appointment times when scheduling your appointment online. If not, you will be able to fill out an Expedited Request Form. If approved by the Embassy or Consulate, you will be able to schedule your expedited appointment online.
Disclaimer: This post should not be taken as legal advice for your individual situation. The intention of this post is to provide general, non-personalized information on expedited, emergency visa appointments. Should you wish to receive personalized legal advice, we encourage you to seek out your own U.S. immigration attorney to review your case.