Update on U.S. Embassy Kingston Consular Operations

(March 3, 2021)

Event: The Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston provides U.S. and Jamaican citizens a range of services.  From processing passports to visas, the Consular Section understands the importance of our work and has strived to provide services over the past year, although at much reduced levels due to COVID-19.  Unfortunately, the many challenges presented by the pandemic mean that we expect to have extended wait times for many of our services for the foreseeable future.  Because of this we caution people against paying visa fees for routine appointments that may be later than their planned travel dates.

Like many U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, Embassy Kingston’s Consular Section is providing services currently, but at significantly lower levels to mitigate health risks.  The Consular Section continues to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens and is accepting limited appointments for citizenship services, including U.S. passports.  The Immigrant Visa (IV) unit is scheduling a limited number of in-person interviews each day, prioritizing mission-critical cases and petitions for the spouses and children of U.S. citizens.  The Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV) unit has suspended routine visa interviews, but is adjudicating mission-critical, dire life-and-death emergency, and student visa cases.  NIV is also processing cases that qualify for interview waiver, including renewals of full-validity tourist visas that have expired within the last 24 months.

We do not know at this time when we will be able to resume the full range of routine consular services.  The extended reduction in our public services due to COVID-19 along with the legally-mandated suspension of processing for some visa categories have created a significant backlog of cases.  As a result, there will likely be extended wait times for many consular services for the foreseeable future.

As we make plans for our work moving forward, we will first focus on continuing to assist U.S. citizens in emergency situations and with citizenship services.  Second, we understand the importance of reuniting families through the immigrant visa process and will devote significant resources to work through immigrant visa cases as quickly as possible.  Lastly, for nonimmigrant visas, we will prioritize mission-critical, dire life-and-death emergencies, temporary employment categories, student visas, and interview waiver cases.  We encourage nonimmigrant visa applicants who do not qualify for these priority categories to wait to schedule visa appointments until such time as we resume routine visa processing and an appointment can be scheduled that is well in advance of your planned travel.

The U.S. Embassy in Kingston has always taken pride in its ability to provide consular services in a courteous and efficient manner, and we look forward anxiously to the time when circumstances allow us to return to providing the timely services that our applicants rightly expect.  In the meantime, we thank everyone for their continued patience and understanding.

 

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