THE United States Embassy in Manila said they are still struggling from a backlog of processing for visa application for immigrants or green card holders following the two-year pandemic.
US Consul General Mark McGovern told reporters that they expect to lessen the backlog in the next six to nine months.
Backlog means the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has already approved the immigration application and has already given the US Embassy the go-signal to issue the appropriate visas.
“We placed a super high importance on family reunification, especially for a culture that values families as much as the Philippines does,”
McGovern said that there has been a record number of Filipinos being petitioned by their families who have become American citizens, as well as fiancés of American citizens.
Last year, the US Embassy has issued 22,000 immigrant visas and 4,900 fiance visas.
Still, the Embassy experienced a backlog on the number of visas that they should be issuing. Most of the visa backlogs are those of parents, spouse, adult children and fiancé of US citizens.
When travel restrictions were lifted in the Philippines sometime mid-year of 2022, he said the Consular team received as much as 1,000 emails and phone calls every week inquiring about the status of the visa issuance of their loved ones.
“The backlog we have now is on some of the longer term family reunification visas. We are working very, very shortly to overcome that backlog,” he said.
The US Consular Section of the US Embassy in Manila is the largest in the Philippines, and the third among US embassies in the world.
Select media, including Business Mirror, were given rare access Thursday morning to film inside the Consular Section of the highly secured US Embassy.
McGovern said most of visas issued by the US Embassy were non-immigrant visas, mostly tourist (B1/B2) or work visas.
Before the pandemic, in 2019, it has issued 290,000 non-immigrant visas to Filipinos. Last year, the number of non-immigrant visas issued was 188,038, or about 60 percent of the pre-pandemic numbers.
“This year, we’re already on track to exceed that close to 290,000 visas that we had done pre-pandemic. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re probably closer to about 320 to 325,000,” he said.
McGovern advised Filipinos to refrain from getting advice from scammers or influencers who share tips on getting visas approved.
“So there is no magic bullet, or a magic list of things that people need to acquire for the visa. Again, based on the individual circumstances of the applicant, how long are they staying? You know, what kind of job do they have? You know, where else have they traveled? What do they plan on doing? What is their education? Do they have any relatives in the United States?” he said.