The National Visa Center contains the visa backlog with more than 506,000 applications yet to be interviewed.

In July 2021, a meeting between the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Department of State (DOS) Liaison Committee took place. The main discussion was around visa backlogs and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. AILA made recommendations to DOS to safely and efficiently reopen America to immigration from overseas.

AILA urged the Biden Administration to incorporate COVID-19 testing, vaccination requirements and quarantining instead of regional travel bans. It would eliminate the NIE process and open consular resources.

AILA explained the necessity for standardizing the National Interest Exception (NIE) process because there’s inconsistency with the adjudication of NIE across various posts and among adjudicating officers at a specific location. 

AILA discussed how important it is to provide an automatic extension of 24 months for NIE to reduce backlogs. Existing NIEs are valid for 12 months from the date of approval.

AILA brought up the remote processing’s benefits for low fraud risk cases and urged continuing interview waiver eligibility. Stateside processing should return. DOS must hire stateside consular officers to address staffing constraints and enable processing to resume.

If you still have any questions about how the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, friends, or colleagues, please get in touch with the immigration attorneys by e-mailing us at, by calling at 206-605-0550, or schedule a Zoom consultation.

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