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Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consulates. All routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments have been cancelled as of March 20, 2020.

During this period, embassies and consulates will continue to process a limited number of visa applications on an emergency basis. We recommend referring to each embassy/consulate’s website for further information.

For example, embassies and consulates in Japan may accept emergency visa applications which require an interview for the following purposes:

  • C1/D visas where urgent business travel is necessary
  • Urgent travel for E visa applicants that cannot be postponed
  • The death or sudden illness of a family member
  • Students or exchange visitors whose purpose of travel is to begin or resume a valid program of study in the United States within two weeks
  • Urgent business travel for applicants other than Es to attend a time-sensitive and critical business matter where the travel requirement could not be predicted in advance and the request for travel comes from a business/company in the United States
  • FiancĂ©(e) visas for urgent travel if necessary for humanitarian reasons

The embassies and consulates in Japan have noted that travel for the purpose of attending weddings and graduation ceremonies, assisting pregnant relatives, participating in an annual business/academic/professional conference, or tourism do not qualify for expedited appointments. Furthermore, an ESTA denial does not qualify for an emergency appointment unless combined with one of the other factors listed above.

Services to U.S. citizens will continue to be available. Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fees remain valid for a visa appointment in the country where they were purchased within one year of the date of payment.
It remains to be seen what standards will be applied to a request for an emergency appointment and how they will be adjudicated. In the past, emergency appointments were only granted in very specific circumstances showing immediate and specific economic loss as a result of the individual not being able to enter the U.S.

We will update as we make these types of requests and observe the standards applied herein.