A federal judge has ruled that the State Department must continue processing visas for eligible travelers while COVID-related travel bans are in effect.
On October 5 in Kinsley v. Blinken, a federal judge ruled that the State Department may not use the COVID-related travel bans as a reason to stop issuing visas for individuals who are otherwise eligible. The State Department in practice has suspended issuing visas for persons who are not granted an exception to the travel bans put in place by Presidents Trump and Biden. That practice must now change based on the outcome of the lawsuit filed by a coalition of immigration law firms and individuals who successfully argued that the COVID-19 travel bans do not equate to a “visa ban.”
Details on how the State Department must proceed are not yet released. While the resumption of visa processing by the State Department will bring relief to many travelers, a backlog is expected and the timeline of visa receipt is not known. This judgement aligns with the expectation that the COVID-19 travel bans will be replaced by vaccination requirements, thereby also requiring the State Department to issue visa stamps to those eligible.
Originally published 08 October 2021
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