Frequently Asked COVID-19 Questions for VISAS

As of July 20, the United States Embassy in Berlin and Consulate General Frankfurt are resuming certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services, including: travelers with urgent travel needs, F, M, and certain J visas, and some family members of U.S. citizens consistent with Presidential Proclamation 10014.  U.S. Consulate General Munich is resuming F, M, and certain J visas only.  Applicants requesting visa services from the U.S. Mission in Germany are welcome to apply at any of the visa-processing posts.   While the Embassy and Consulates aim to process cases as soon as practicable, there is likely to be increased wait times for completing such services due to substantial backlogs.  The MRV fee is valid and may be used to schedule an interview appointment in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment. If you have an urgent matter and need to travel immediately, please email the consular section in your area (FrankfurtVisaInquiries@state.gov, ConsBerlin@state.gov, ConsMunich@state.gov) to request an emergency appointment.   

Applicants for H1B, H2B, H4, L, and certain J categories covered by Presidential Proclamation 10052 should request an appointment only if you have reason to believe you may qualify for one of the exceptions listed in the Proclamation here.

Before reading the FAQ below, please become familiar with all of the most recent Presidential Proclamations issued by the White House.  In particular, Presidential Proclamations 9993, 10014, and 10052 affect visa processing in Germany.

Q: I had a planned vacation in the United States.  Can I travel on ESTA or get a B1/B2 tourist visa?

A: In general, no.  Presidential Proclamation 9993 restricts travel from the Schengen area to the United States due to the Novel Coronavirus.  However, if you have a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) child or sibling under the age of 21 or a U.S. citizen or LPR spouse, you may be eligible for an exception from Presidential Proclamation 9993.

If you believe you do qualify for an exception, please email the consular section in your area.  You will need to have the original documentation of your relationship, an annotated visa excepting you from the Presidential Proclamation on the Novel Coronavirus, or a exception applied to your ESTA to board a flight.

Please be advised, if a national interest exception is granted for travel on a new or existing visa or for travel under ESTA, it is good for only one entry and for travel within 30 days after it is approved. 

Q: Can I travel to the United States through a country that is not covered by Presidential Proclamation 9993?

A: Direct travel to the United States from a country that is not covered by the COVID-19 Regional Proclamations may be possible, however CBP controls port of entry and will determine to admit you into the United States.  Individuals that are subject to the COVID-19 Regional Proclamations 9984, 9992, 9993, or 9996 may travel to a country not subject to restrictions and remain there for at least 14 days and then travel directly to the United States, but we advise you to verify whether the country to which you intend to travel has implemented travel or other restrictions before you make travel arrangements.  One possible source of such information is travel.state.gov which contains links to the websites of other countries’ immigration authorities.

U.S. consular sections in Germany are not able to suggest countries to which you may travel, or comment on the travel regulations that apply to a country other than the United States and Germany.

Q: I do not have a U.S. citizen or LPR child under 21 or a U.S. or LPR citizen spouse, but I have another immediate family member (ex. U.S. citizen or LPR parent, child or sibling over 21) in the United States and need to travel urgently.  Can I travel on ESTA or a B1/B2 tourist visa?

A: Please email the U.S. consular section in your area with an explanation of your need to travel urgently along with medical documentation.  You may be eligible for an exception to the restrictions in Presidential Proclamation 9993, such as for critical medical treatment or to provide critical medical care for a family member in the U.S.

Please be advised, if a national interest exception is granted for travel on a new or existing visa or for travel under ESTA, it is good for only one entry and for travel within 30 days after it is approved. 

Q: I am a student (F or M) or exchange visitor student (J) or medical researcher/short-term scholar (J).  Can I apply for a visa or use my previously approved visa?

A: Yes.  As a J exchange student or academic researcher/short-term scholar you may be eligible for an exception to the restrictions in Presidential Proclamation 9993.  Please make a visa appointment online if you are a first-time applicant for one of these categories.  If you already have a visa but are currently located in the Schengen area, please email the U.S. consular section in your area to be considered for an exception.

Students who already hold valid F and M visas do not need to apply for a new visa and may now travel directly from the Schengen area to the United States. Prospective students who need an F or M visa should make an appointment for a visa interview.  All F and M travelers must have a current I-20 form that complies with all Student and Exchange Visitor Program requirements; if admitted into the U.S., such students may have to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Please be advised, if a national interest exception is granted for travel on a new or existing visa or for travel under ESTA, it is good for only one entry and for travel within 30 days after it is approved. 

Q: I am being sponsored as an au pair, camp counselor, intern, or trainee (J).  Can I apply for a visa or use my previously approved visa?

A: If you are present in the Schengen area, you are subject to the travel restrictions pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 9993.  In addition, if you are within one of these J visa categories, you are subject to the travel restrictions pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 10052.  Limited exceptions apply.      

However, if you are an au pair (J) for a child with special needs or providing care for a child whose parents are working to mitigate COVID-19, you may be eligible for an exception to Presidential Proclamations 9993 and 10052.  Please email the U.S. consular section in your area.

Q: I am a member of a flight or ship crew and need to renew my visa (C1/D).  Can I submit paperwork for a renewal?

A: Yes.  We are processing visa renewals for crew members.  You may make an appointment by emailing your nearest U.S. Consulate.  If you are eligible for renewal without an interview, please follow the instructions for the Visa Waiver Program and be sure to include a photocopy of your flight ID badge or a letter from your employer.

Q: My company is transferring me to work for our office in the United States (L).  Can I get apply for a visa or use my previously approved visa?

A: We are not currently processing routine L visa applications except in limited cases.  Intracompany transferees are subject to Presidential Proclamation 10052 on the Risk to the Labor Market through December 31, 2020.  Additionally, if you are present in the Schengen area, you are subject to the travel restrictions pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 9993.  However, if your company is assisting in the containment of mitigation of COVID-19, please email the U.S. consular section in your area.

National interest exceptions are available for L2 spouses or children who will accompany or follow to join a principal applicant who is not subject to Presidential Proclamation 10052 or who has received an exception to Presidential Proclamations 10052 and 9993.

Q: I am a highly skilled worker (H1B).  Can I apply for a visa or use my previously approved visa?

A: We are not currently processing routine H1B visa applications except in limited cases. Skilled workers are subject to Presidential Proclamation 10052 on the Risk to the Labor Market through December 31, 2020.  Additionally, if you are present in the Schengen area, you are subject to the travel restrictions pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 9993.  However, if your company is assisting in the containment of mitigation of COVID-19, please email the U.S. consular section in your area.

National interest exceptions are available for H4 spouses or children who will accompany or follow to join a principal applicant who is not subject to Presidential Proclamation 10052 or who has received an exception to Presidential Proclamations 10052 and 9993.

Q: I am a technician (B1, E2), and my company needs me to travel to the United States to service equipment necessary to mitigating COVID-19.  Can I apply for a visa or use my previously approved visa?

A: Yes.  You are eligible for an exception to the restrictions in Presidential Proclamation 9993.  Please make a visa appointment online to schedule a visa interview if you are a first-time applicant.  If you already have a visa but are currently located in the Schengen area, please email the U.S. consular section in your area to be considered for an exception to apply to enter the United States.

Please be advised, if a national interest exception is granted for travel on a new or existing visa or for travel under ESTA, it is good for only one entry and for travel within 30 days after it is approved. 

Q: I am investor or treaty trader (E) whose company is working on mitigating COVID-19.  Can I apply for a visa or use my previously approved visa?

A: Yes.  You are eligible for an exception to the restrictions in Presidential Proclamation 9993.  Please make a visa appointment online to schedule a visa interview if you are a first-time applicant or registrant.  If you already have a visa but are currently located in the Schengen area, please email the U.S. consular section in your area to be considered for an exception to apply to enter the United States.

Please be advised, if a national interest exception is granted for travel on a new or existing visa or for travel under ESTA, it is good for only one entry and for travel within 30 days after it is approved. 

Q: I am in the immigrant visa process right now.  Do the Presidential Proclamations affect me?

A: Under Presidential Proclamation 10014 (April 22, 2020) which was extended by President Proclamation 10052 (June 22, 2020), who have not been issued an immigrant visa as of April 23 are subject to the proclamation’s restrictions unless eligible for an exception.  The proclamation’s restrictions extend through December 31, 2020.  Exceptions include lawful permanent residents; immigrants seeking to enter as healthcare professionals; spouses, children, and prospective children of U.S. citizens; and certain Special Immigrant Visa applicants.  Please read Presidential Proclamation 10052 for detailed information.

Lawful permanent residents and those holding valid immigrant visas on as of April 23 are not subject to the proclamation’s restrictions.  No valid visas will be revoked under this Proclamation.

In order to maximize use of our limited resources,  we are not able to schedule visa appointments for IV applicants subject to the Presidential Proclamations unless you have reason to believe you may qualify for one of the exceptions in the proclamation.  This includes all Diversity Visa Program applicants.

Q: I fall under an exception to the proclamations.  Can I continue with the immigrant visa application process?

A: If you are applying for an immigrant visa and the case is being processed by NVC, please click here for information.  Please contact NVC directly using the online contact form on that website if you still have questions.  The Consulate cannot answer any questions about NVC cases, including any questions about expedite options or about appointments.

If you are applying for a visa as the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen (IR-1, CR-1, IR-2 or CR-2) and your case is with a U.S. consular section in Germany, please contact us at FrankfurtIV@state.gov.

If you are applying for an immigrant visa in any category OTHER than what is listed above and you have been advised that your case file has been forwarded to the Consulate in Frankfurt, you may refer to our website at https://de.usembassy.gov/visas/immigrant-visas for an overview of the application procedure and begin compiling the necessary supporting documents.  Please monitor our website for updates.  Applicants are typically given 12 months in which to apply for the visa, starting from the date on which the Consulate’s Immigrant Visa Unit writes to them with instructions about the status of their case.

Please be advised that the validity of immigrant visas cannot be extended.  If you are unable to travel within the validity period of your visa due to circumstances beyond your control, you can request visa reissuance by writing FrankfurtIV@state.gov.

Q: I am a Special Immigrant, approved through the SIV program.  Can I continue my visa application? 

A: SIV applicants in the SI and SQ classification qualify for an exception to P.P. 10052 and individuals who qualify for an exception to that proclamation should also be considered to qualify for an exception to P.P. 9993.  Please contact us at FrankfurtVisaInquiries@state.gov.

Q: I am engaged to a U.S. citizen (K).  Can I continue my visa application?

A: We are not currently processing routine K visa applications at this time except in limited circumstances.  We will make information available moving forward that informs all applicants of the category of visas that we are processing.

Q: I am a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and currently outside of the United States.  What should I do?

A: Presidential Proclamations 9993, 10014, and 10052 do not apply to legal permanent residents.  You may return to the United States.

If you are not in possession of your Permanent Resident Card (green card) and wish to travel to the United States, you may apply for a Transportation Boarding foil or an SB1 in order to facilitate boarding by the airline to transport you back to the U.S.  Please see our website for information about how to apply for a Transportation Boarding Foil.

Q: Will I be required to self-quarantine after I enter the United States?

A: The Department of State recommends the CDC website for the most up-to-date information regarding quarantine requirements.

Q: I am in the United States and I am worried about overstaying my authorized period of admission.  What should I do?

A: If you are in the United States, please visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for information on how to apply to extend your stay.  While you are in the United States, any questions about your status are a matter for USCIS and not the Embassy or Consulates in Germany.  Information and contact details can be found on the USCIS website.

Q: I am travelling from the Schengen zone to a third country and my itinerary includes a transfer at a U.S. airport. Will I be allowed to make this journey?

A: Very likely not. Travelers whose itinerary includes a stop or transfer in the United States must be able to enter the U.S. to continue their journey and presidential proclamations 9984, 9992, 9993, and 9996 do not include a specific exemption for transit passengers. Tourism to third countries does not qualify for a National Interest Exemption (NIE). Ask your airline about rerouting your travel.