U.S. Embassy in Seoul suspends all visa services

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U.S. Embassy in Seoul suspends all visa services

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[YONHAP]

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul said Wednesday that it will suspend all routine visa services from Thursday for an unspecified period of time in keeping with the State Department’s measures to respond to the new coronavirus outbreak.

The embassy said in a statement that it “will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments” starting Thursday. However, this will not affect the existing visa waiver program, and services to U.S. citizens will continue.

The visa waiver enables Korean nationals to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.

The U.S. Department of State decided to suspend routine visa services in all countries with travel advisories that are Level 2 or higher in its four-tier system. Other countries including India have already reported individuals who have had their interviews canceled this week.

The U.S. State Department has a Level 3 advisory for Korea, urging Americans to “reconsider” a visit. It has a Level 4 advisory, the highest alert, in place for Daegu, urging Americans not to travel to the region which has seen the highest concentration of coronavirus cases.

The embassy in Seoul said, “We will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.”

For those who have already applied for visas and paid the non-refundable application fee, referred to as the MRV fee, the embassy said that the fee is still valid and “may be used for a visa application in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment.”

Last week, the United States banned travelers from Europe.

Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in all U.S. states, and there have been over 6,100 reported cases in the country and 112 deaths, according to CNN as of Thursday.

People seeking an emergency appointment for urgent matters and those who need to travel immediately can submit a request online at https://www.ustraveldocs.com/kr/kr-niv-expeditedappointment.asp

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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