Recent Troubles with U.S. Visas

This is Stephanie of IMS.

The state of immigration to the United States has been in dire straights for the past half year. Using COVID as an excuse, a Presidential Proclamation in June blocked many visa categories from being issued for the rest of the year, including H1-B, L, and most J visa categories. Although there have been some additional relaxations to this proclamation, for the most part, work-related nonimmigrant and immigrant visas are not being issued.

In addition, the USCIS raised basic application fees, which will go into effect in early October. The basic application fee for an H-1B visa rose 21% to $555 from the current $460; and the filing fee for an L-1 visa (intra company transfer) rose 75% to $805. In reaction to this, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), claiming that these fees would hurt businesses both large and small.

Even visa categories that weren’t blocked or hit with a fee increase — like B visas or student visas — were unable to be issued, due to closed U.S. Embassies around the world. Only recently has interview appointments opened up again at the Consulates and Embassy in Japan.

With so many changes to the immigration system lately, and very few of the changes good, it’s hard to imagine what the future will hold. One can only hope that things will return to some level of normal during these uncertain times.