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Key Points

  • The Department of State (DOS) has clarified how US embassies and consulates are prioritizing immigrant visa applications and managing backlogs
  • All embassies and consulates are currently prioritizing immigrant visas using a tiered system
  • Age-out cases, Special Immigrant Visas, immediate intercountry adoption visas, and emergency cases have top priority
  • DOS will prioritize applications for foreign healthcare workers


The DOS provided clarity on how US embassies and consulates are prioritizing certain visa applications and addressing backlogs.

What are the Changes?

Worldwide, US embassies and consulates that process both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas are currently only prioritizing immigrant visa applications. They are using a tiered system for application processing.

Applications are processed in three tiers:

Tier One

  • Age-out cases
  • Immediate intercountry adoption visas
  • Special Immigrant Visas, and emergency cases

Tier Two

  • FiancĂ© visas
  • Immediate relative visas
  • Returning resident visas

Tier Three

  • SE Special Immigrant Visas for US government employees abroad
  • Family preference immigrant visas

Tier Four

  • All other immigrant visa categories

Along with introducing its tiered application processing system, the DOS announced that it will continue processing diversity visas. It also noted that it will prioritize applications for foreign emergency healthcare workers.

Looking Ahead

Application processing based on the type of visa and visa volume varies by location. Although US embassies and consulates are processing visas as quickly as possible, processing delays still exist in many locations. Employers and applicants should contact their closest post for more information on processing times.

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