When COVID19 struck, it lead to a complete shutdown of international borders and, in many ways, the entire immigration process. USCIS officers who manage adjustment of status cases and Consular Officers who manage consular processing cases abroad could not go into work leading to a significant backlog of cases. U.S. State Department embassies and consulates abroad have seen their visa interview backlogs grow from 75,000 at the start of 2020 to 473,000 by February of this year, Consular Affairs Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services Julie M. Stufft said at a briefing.
The ballooning backlogs are a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and closures that were necessary to protect staff and the public, both in the U.S. and overseas, according to the agencies responsible for adjudicating applications and issuing documents. What the Biden administration is facing right now is figuring out how to deal with all of those after-effects of both COVID19 but also of President Trump’s push to slow down immigration.
The State Department though is pushing for a re-opening of consular sections and USCIS is gradually moving but it will take time. New variants of COVID19, a slow vaccine rollout for most of the world, and loosening restrictions has led to a potential 4th COVID19 wave which will hamper the ability of USCIS or the State Department to immediately issue visas and deal with its backlog of cases.