AILA Quicktake #306: How DOS Can Reduce Delays and Eliminate Visa Backlogs

On June 29, AILA published a policy brief discussing visa backlog and processing delays exacerbated by COVID-19 travel restrictions. AILA's Policy Associate Paul Stern gives an overview of AILA's recommendations to DOS to safely and efficiently reopen America to immigration from overseas.

Video Transcript

AILA Quicktake #306–How DOS Can Reduce Delays and Eliminate Visa Backlogs

The COVID 19 global pandemic has had a severe impact on our nation's immigration system. Travel bans imposed during the Trump administration and continued by President Biden on top of consular post closures across the globe have effectively closed our nation to much of the world and shut down immigration into the United States.

During the pandemic, visa issuance has dropped significantly, nonimmigrant visa issuance dropped by 80 percent from pre pandemic levels. Immigrant visa issuance by 70 percent. And the backlog of immigrant visa cases waiting for an interview at a counselor post exploded by approximately seven hundred and thirty two percent to more than 50,0000 qualified applicants awaiting interview in June 2021.

The impact is palpable. Otherwise, eligible individuals have been impeded from entering the country. Families have been separated and U.S. businesses have been unable to bring in needed foreign talent. To address this growing crisis on June 29th, 2021, AILA issued a policy brief with recommendations offering sensible policies and procedures that the Department of State can utilize to address the mounting backlogs. Severe delays and inefficient policies.

Our recommendations start with rescinding the regional travel bans and replacing them with practical solutions that are guided by science rather than mere blanket bans of entire nations or regions. AILA calls on the Department of State to implement additional solutions such as stateside processing of visa renewals, leveraging U.S. based consular officers for assistance, expanding interview waiver eligibility and visa validity, holding virtual interviews, and coordinating with agencies such as CBP to maximize efficiency. We also call on the Biden administration and members of Congress to ensure that the Department of State is appropriately funded and that those visas that went unused due to administrative delays are recaptured.

To help amplify these recommendations, AILA needs your help. Take action by calling on the administration to rescind these travel bans and implement these sensible solutions to ensure that the agency takes proper steps to efficiently and fairly address the issues created by this pandemic.

Make sure to include the examples of the real life impact of these policies and delays have created. And after you take action. Share your stories on social media with hashtags. #DeptofStateToDoList and #AddresstheBacklog.

Together, we can make sure that the administration and the Department of State understand that it's time to follow the science and reopen America.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 21070134.