US not accepting new visa applications

The US embassy has resumed its visa services in Dhaka, but is not accepting new applications.

Individuals with B1/B2 visas - tourism, business and medical - that have expired within the last 24 months can apply to renew their visas, William Dowers, Consular Chief, US Embassy Dhaka, said at a virtual press meet on Monday.

He called it ‘interview-waiver’ applications.

They will also accept non-immigrant visa categories:  C, C1/D, F, I, J, M, O, and Q.

“Please keep in mind that due to COVID-19 processing times could be as long as six weeks. It is recommended you submit your application well ahead of your proposed travel dates,” the embassy said in a statement.

“We cannot yet accept new visa applications for any nonimmigrant visa categories, including F1 (students) and F2 (spouses/children of students).  We continue to offer emergency visa services for applicants with life or death emergencies.  Visit our website for more information:”.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, eligibility for interview-waiver renewal of nonimmigrant visas was extended to 24 months. This change will be in effect through December 31, 2020.  Details have been posted on the embassy website.

After the embassy receives an application, the reviewing Consular Officer may determine that the applicant will require an in-person interview.  These applicants will have to schedule an interview when regular in-person, visa services resume.

Until Embassy Dhaka’s regular visa services resume, the application fee (MRV) will remain valid and may be used to schedule an interview appointment there until December 31, 2021. 

To the students, the embassy said: “We are only accepting interview-waiver applications for continuing students who want to renew their student visas for the same field of study at the same institution.  We are also accepting applications for continuing F2 spouses and their children under the age of 21.”

William Dowers at the press briefing said: “We hope to be able to issue new b1/b2 visas soon, but we don't know yet when we will be authorized to start accepting applications for new visas.”

He said if students came in January, visas expired in March are eligible for interview-waiver visas.

“We don’t know,” he said when asked for the dates about the starting visa of new students.

He said they are following the instructions of their medical professionals.

“Some US embassies are issuing visas for new students. That’s because of the health situation of the country,” he said.

“If a journalist doesn't have a current ‘I’ visa or recently expired I visa, within the last 24 months - they wouldn't qualify for an interview waiver application, so they could not apply now.”

He, however, said Covid-19 testing requirement for travelling is dependent on state and local regulations.  “You would need to check with your destination.  This is the same for self isolation requirements upon arrival”.