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State Department suspends visa services across the world

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Jason Hopkins on March 19, 2020

The State Department is suspending visa services in most countries across the world, the Trump administration’s latest response to mitigating the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The State Department announced Wednesday it’s canceling all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant appointments at embassies and consulates in numerous countries. The suspensions became effective immediately, and no specific date was provided on when services would begin again.

“In response to worldwide challenges related to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Department of State is suspending routine visa services in most countries worldwide,” the department announced in a press statement. “Embassies and consulates in these countries will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 18, 2020.”

“As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide urgent and emergency visa services,” the statement continued.

A State Department spokesperson told Axios that the cancellations will apply to all countries that have a travel advisory level of 2,3, or 4. Affected governments include the UK, Italy, Germany, France, Ukraine, Denmark, Russia, Israel, China, South Korea, Japan, Brazil, India and Turkey

Those under the visa waiver program — which allows people to visit the United States for business or tourism for 90 days or less without needing a visa — will not be affected.

Visa applicants in need of immediate travel can still request emergency appointments with effected embassies, the State Department added.

The directive is just the latest in the U.S. government’s response to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak. The Trump administration, for example,c recently closed non-essential traffic at the Canadian border, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has suspended in-person services nationwide, and the U.S. refugee Admissions program has been put on hold.

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