How long is too long to wait to be reunited with a loved one? A week? A month? For some families, the wait to be together is approaching a year or longer. It’s not wonder that we’ve been getting a lot of inquires from people who want to know if anything can be done to request an emergency non-immigrant visa appointment. These are people who don’t want to come here to live, but want to visit a sick family member, attend a wedding, or simply have a hug from an aging U.S. citizen parent.

If you look at visa appointment availability on the Department of State website, you’ll see most Consulates are “emergency only.” For example, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, London, and Shanghai all have no visa appointments available in the foreseeable future . Berlin shows a wait of 999 days, Tegucigalpa is at 455 days and Sydney is “only” 126 days.

Several families have asked us to help them with obtaining an expedited visa appointment. We’ve had luck in a few cases, but we’ve had a few requests denied, too. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…Consulates will entertain these requests in extreme medical emergencies. For example, we had a request approved for someone who was a match for his son who needed a bone marrow transplant. We had another request approved for a woman who required medication only available. In the denials, the requests have been based more on emotional need. For example, a mother wanting to see her young child receiving medical treatment in the US to provide love an support was denied and expedited appointment. She won’t be able to have her visa interview until early 2022.

Everyone who wants a tourist visa to the US right now has a reason for wanting to come. Certainly not everyone can be granted an expedited appointment, but the standards right now are so extremely high – truly life or death – that very few are granted. Of course, it would be much better if the Department of State could solve this problem at the core – to open up more appointment slots or approve visas without interviews.

Still, though, I am a believer in “you don’t get what you don’t ask for.” We will keep trying to help bring families together.

– Tracie