Greenberg Traurig Immigration & Compliance Practice Shareholders Kate Kalmykov and Nataliya Rymer were grateful for the opportunity to meet with Consular Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Paris and tour their American Citizen Services and Consular Visa Services sections as part of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) RDC Conference. Below are some key updates addressed during these meetings:

  1. Confirmation that third country nationals will be accepted for nonimmigrant and immigrant visa processing at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, including Russian, Iranian, and Ukrainian nationals. As a reminder, acceptance of a visa application and scheduling of a visa appointment do not guarantee visa application approval, visa issuance, or negate any grounds for refusal.
  2. The Consular Section at the Embassy reports having decreased their visa appointment wait times along with interview-waiver visa processing times significantly.
  3. E-2 treaty investor visas constitute a high portion of the applications at the Consulate, with interviews conducted on the Monday of each week. Consular officials confirmed they will adjudicate third country E-2 visa applications, but cautioned that when the business relates to specific country conditions, applicants may find it easier and more beneficial to apply at the U.S. Consular Post in their home country, even if the wait time is longer. Nonimmigrant Visa Section officials confirmed that there have been some denials related to E-2 treaty investor applicants seeking extensions of status whose businesses applied for, and received, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Consular Officials stated that, rather than the receipt of the PPP loan itself having caused the denial, the adjudicating officers want to see extensive proof that the PPP loan was used for its stated purpose, in order to address wide concerns regarding fraud. Furthermore, applicants must be able to demonstrate that, since taking out the PPP loan, the companies have continued operations, generated revenues, and created or maintained jobs. Separately, rather than demonstrating that financial and employment projections outlined in the business plan were met with exact precision, businesses should document operations, growth, and efforts to meet these projections. 
  4. The Consular officials stressed that the Consular Section is unable to expedite any cases undergoing administrative processing, as this processing is undertaken at the State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., rather than at the Post.
  5. F-1 Foreign Visas are processed at high volumes, with scheduling of interviews and visa issuance continuously prioritized.
  6. Requests for expedited visa appointments can be made where circumstances warrant, and such circumstances will have to be explained to the Post in an expedited appointment request.
  7. The Embassy does offer Privacy rooms for sensitive situations and applicants.
  8. Supervisor’s desks are located behind the interviewing Consular Officers, and therefore, Supervisors are able to hear, and address, any more complex issues arising during interviews.
  9. Consular officials stressed that, because supervisors are close in proximity during interview processes, any denials resulting during interviews are vetted and approved by them. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to reapply after denials, rather than asking for reconsideration of the previously submitted application. Furthermore, to the extent possible based on staffing levels, the Consular Section attempts to assign different officers for reapplications, to ensure that each application is reviewed fully. 
  10. Consular Officers at the U.S. Embassy in Paris speak many different languages and are therefore able to offer translation as needed. If a visa applicant appears with a translator, the translator may be asked to leave if the Consular staff have someone fluent in the applicant’s native language.
  11. U.S. Citizen Services at the Embassy in Paris will accept third country applicants seeking renunciation of citizenship.
  12. Lost or stolen U.S. passports can be issued quickly by the American Citizen Services. As a note, U.S. citizens traveling in France are advised to keep their passports in a hotel safe, due to high levels of pick-pocketing.