The U.S. State Department, immigration offices and worldwide embassies and
consulates have experienced closures and reduced staffing since March 2020 due to
the global pandemic that has resulted in a serious backlog of immigration applications,
paperwork and interviews. The immigration backlog has created a serious shortage for
temporary work visa applications and renewals, including H-1B and L-1 visas and other
The State Department has waived in-person interviews for temporary work visas and
students through December 31, 2022, for:
● H-1B visas: Persons in Specialty Occupations
● H-3 visas: Trainee or Special Education Visitors
● H-2 visas: Temporary Agricultural and Non-agricultural Workers
● L visas: Intracompany Transferees
● F and M visas: Students
● Academic J visas: Student Exchange Visitors
● P visas: Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers
● Q visas: Participants in International Cultural Exchange Programs
Authorization to waive the in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa in the
same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration has been extended
The announcement on December 23 that H-1B and L-1 and other nonimmigrant in-
person interviews will be waived said:
“The Department of State recognizes the positive impact of temporary work visa
holders on the U.S. economy and is committed to facilitating nonimmigrant travel
and reducing visa wait times… The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in profound
reductions in the Department’s visa processing capacity… As global travel
rebounds, we are taking these temporary steps to further our commitment to
safely and efficiently reduce visa wait times while maintaining national security as
U.S. embassies and consulates may still require an in-person interview for temporary
work visas on a case-by-case basis, dependent on local conditions.
Work Visa Backlog Creates Labor Shortage
U.S. businesses report that delays in processing visa applications and renewals is one
of the reasons for the current labor shortage. CNN recently reported that “US
companies already reeling from a worker shortage are now facing the challenge of
employees falling out of jobs because their work permits haven’t been renewed on time
by the federal government.”
Jon Baselice, vice president of immigration policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,
called the delays in processing immigration renewals “quite disruptive” and said of the
“The critical factor going forward will be the extent to which consulates exercise
these newly-granted authorities; the more the State Department uses them, the
more beneficial they will be to American companies.”
What Is A Temporary Work Visa?
A temporary work visa is a non-immigrant, employment-based visa for individuals who
want to work in the United States for a defined period of time, then return to their home
country. Each type of temporary work visa requires the prospective employer to file a
petition with USCIS.
An H-1B visa is for individuals who want to enter the U.S. to work in a specialty
occupation that requires a higher education degree or its equivalent.
L-1 visas are for intra-company job transfer candidates who work for a foreign
branch of a U.S.-based company or for foreign employees of a foreign-based
company that wants to open a U.S. location.
In 2019 before the onset of the global pandemic in 2020, the State Department issued
more than 188,000 H-1B visas and 77,000 L-1 visas to applicants living abroad.
Do You Need A Temporary Work Visa?
Garvish Immigration Law Group represents business, corporate and employment-based
immigration clients across the globe. We work with corporate in-house Human
Resources teams and assist startups, foreign investors and multinational companies
who want to open a location in the United States or bring key personnel to their U.S.
Contact us today at 1.800.951.4980 to discuss how we can help you achieve your
business immigration goals.
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