The U.S. Department of State’s U.S. Mission China Consular Services recently announced that they would suspend all routine visa services indefinitely. As a result, starting on December 19, 2022, all United States consulate offices in China have canceled most routine appointments. However, a few remain scheduled at the U.S. consulate located in Shanghai.
In Guangzhou, Wuhan, and Shenyang, the U.S. consulate offices will only provide emergency consular services for United States citizens. The U.S. consulate general in Shanghai and the U.S. embassy in Beijing also announced that they would limit services to supplying U.S. citizens with emergency and passport assistance. Furthermore, the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China, has suspended all of its immigrant visa services and all visa appointments.
However, individuals who have applied for non-immigrant visas can reschedule on the visa appointment website for the U.S. consulate. These individuals should reschedule when the consulate resumes its normal operations. The visa service suspensions happening at United States consulates in China have occurred due to the substantial increase in COVID-19 cases in China.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on travel abroad. It has also affected how U.S. consulates operated since the first travel restrictions took effect in January 2020 due to COVID-19. These restrictions prohibited people in China from entering the United States. In February 2020, the limitations halted routine visa services in China and did not restart until the travel ban ended in November 2021.
Unfortunately, the conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and varying responses to it by other countries have considerably delayed visa processing. In addition, the lockdowns and travel restrictions have significantly impacted many areas related to visa processing. However, the State Department and U.S. consulates worldwide have continued to address these delays and the struggles caused by the pandemic.
It remains unknown how long the current suspension of services in China will last and how it will affect people traveling after the holidays. Additionally, it will likely cause delays in obtaining visa interviews and issuance. As a result, foreign nationals who intend to travel to the United States soon may need to change their plans if they do not have a valid visa.
Companies should keep these restrictions in mind, especially if employees travel to or return from China.
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