Updated on 11.01.2022

Visa question of the month - Interview or postal application

Your question: Our employee has already booked an appointment at the US consulate in Frankfurt/Main. Unfortunately, this appointment will not take place for another four weeks. Do you advise to keep the appointment or apply for the documents by mail?

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Your question

Our company is currently applying for an L-1 visa for an employee (German nationality) and has already booked a fixed appointment at the US Consulate in Frankfurt/Main in this context. Unfortunately, this appointment will not take place for another 4 weeks. Do you advise to keep the appointment or to go the easier way now and apply for the documents by mail? And how would that be possible now?

Our answer

In fact, the U.S. Department of State has responded to the critical appointment availability situation at U.S. consulates worldwide by expanding the postal submission process for certain visa categories.

From now until and including the end of the year, certain applicants may apply for the US visa without the otherwise mandatory in-person interview appointment. Also L-1 Visas are affected.

First, please note that not all individuals applying for an L-1 visa automatically qualify for the submission process. In the case of your employee, it would only work under the following conditions:

  1. The lady applies for the visa in the country of citizenship and is also currently staying in Germany. This should be the case.
  2. There are no potential or general grounds for exclusion (e.g. criminal record) for the issuance of a US visa. We also assume this to be the case.
  3. This must be an L-1 Individual visa (petition-based; I-797 Approval Notice from USCIS is available). L-Blanket visas unfortunately do not fall under the new interview exemption rule.
  4. If the employee is applying for the L-1 visa for the first timeHere the employee must already once with a ESTA authorization (under the visa waiver) or entered the U.S. under any other visa category.
  5. If the employee wishes to extend her L-1 visaIn this case, the previous L-1 visa must not have expired for more than 48 months and the lady's master data (name, nationality, etc.) must not have changed in the meantime. Under these conditions, a postal submission would be possible.

Main issue: You can only access the submission procedure by canceling the existing interview appointment in the online profile and then answering the interview appointment questions again in the profile. Based on the answers to the questions (e.g., about previous visas, etc.), the system will show you accordingly whether an interview appointment is mandatory or whether the postal procedure can be used as an alternative. If the latter is possible, you will receive all the information on how to submit the application via the profile. It is not possible to simply send the application by mail to the Consulate General in Frankfurt/Main. You must follow this procedure to ensure processing.

If you cancel the interview appointment and for (any) reason the postal procedure is not possible, you could only make a new appointment for the employee. Then of course with probably longer waiting times for an appointment. I.e., it should be carefully checked in advance whether the postal procedure is really possible.

In addition, you should also allow around 2-3 weeks processing time for the submission procedure until the visa is issued or until the passport is returned.

In your case, sending the appointment by mail may actually save you time. However, if the cancellation of the appointment seems too risky, you can alternatively check regularly in the online profile whether an earlier appointment may become available (e.g. due to the cancellation of other applicants).

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Updated on 11.01.2022