Amid COVID-19 Only “urgent” applications for Visas being considered at consulates

Updated: Jun 12

Originally published By ALLAN WERNICK for NEW YORK DAILY NEWS (

Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York’s Citizenship Now! project.

Here is a short Q&A session conducted by Mr. Wenick in order to hopefully explain the situation of USCIS offices and foreign consulates in the US.

Q: When will U.S. consulates open for visa applicants?

Nolol Kassem, located in New York City

A: The U.S. Department of State has yet to announce a reopening date. For now, only applicants who can claim an “urgent” need for a visa can get assistance. Urgent matters include “air and sea crew, and medical personnel, particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19.”

Others with exceptional need to come to the United States — for instance those requiring medical treatment or to care for an ill relative — should apply for “urgent” services as well. It can’t hurt to try. You apply through the website of the U.S. consulate in your country.

Q: I married a citizen on March 1, 2017. USCIS granted me conditional permanent residence in November 2017. I filed USCIS form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, but I have yet to get a decision. Can I apply to naturalize now or must I wait for a decision on form I-751?

Rene, located in Reno, Nev.

A: You can apply to naturalize. A conditional permanent resident who qualifies for U.S. citizenship can apply while his or her form I-751 is pending. You became a conditional resident because USCIS granted you permanent residence within two years of your marriage.

A conditional permanent resident has all the rights and benefits of a permanent resident, including qualifying to naturalize under the three-year rule. To qualify under the three-year rule, you must have been married and living with a U.S. citizen while a permanent resident.

USCIS officers can adjudicate pending I-751 applications at naturalization interviews. If the officer approves the I-751, he or she can then consider a naturalization application at the same interview. Include your I-751 filing receipt when you submit your naturalization application.

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