Sequestration and Visa Adjudications

With the looming deadline before the automatic spending cuts take effect, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has issued the following practice alert:

What will be the impact on visa processing at U.S. consular posts if, as seems likely, the automatic spending cutback (“sequestration”) takes place March 1, 2013, at 11:59 EST?

While the exact impact is unknown, it can be fairly said that sequestration will result in diminished consular services, including visa adjudications. The Department of State has already warned that the number of officers processing visa applications will be reduced. When asked about the impact of sequestration on the visa application process on Wednesday, February 27, 2013, Press Briefing, the Department of State expressed the concern that “we could have major setbacks in really the herculean effort we’ve made to reduce wait times.” And that “one of the areas that there’ll be an impact on, obviously, is our ability provide consular services. And so we’re concerned about that and it took a lot of effort to get us to reduce those wait times, and a lot of new hiring, a lot of new staff.”

On Thursday, the Department added “Sequestration threatens all of our operations because it cuts across the board. And so the point being we’ve had a huge consular surge, it’s been good for the American economy. We estimate that for every 65 visitors to the U.S., that creates one American job. And obviously sequestration has a broader impact on our ability at all of our operations and our posts. And so one of the areas that we’ve particularly had a surge in hiring is on visa adjudicators, and sequestration certainly could have an impact in that regard.”

If the sequester does indeed take effect tonight, we recommend that members alert their clients to the very real possibility of delays in the visa application process. Watch InfoNet for further updates.

AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13030141 (posted Mar. 1, 2013)

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