Delayed visa processes leave families of U.S. citizens in limbo |

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and now to families in limbo over the past year the pandemic has slowed even routine immigration matters to a near halt as consulates and embassies all over the world shuttered during lockdowns and many are still trying to get back up to speed last summer we introduced you to this couple in peru they were struggling to try to obtain a fiance visa in time for the birth of their first child tonight the mom-to-be is in the u.s due to give birth any moment her fiance still waiting to join them abc’s maggie rooley followed up with them and has this report in atlanta georgia 27 year old american abby matson’s putting the final touches on the nursery for her first child a boy to be named isaac she thought her venezuelan fiancee alejandro would be by her side as they prepare for the biggest moment in their lives instead he’s in peru where we first met the couple in july of last year we had a lot of hope that he that we would both be able to come and be in the united states together for the birth of our child now i’m 39 weeks pregnant so the baby can really come any day and i’m here in the us and alejandro is in lima and we actually haven’t seen any forward progress with his visa application with time ticking the couple was forced to make a heartbreaking decision abby left for the u.s in october to have the baby in the states while alejandro continues to wait out the visa process in peru right when i was going through security you know when i was by myself i felt like i wanted to cry and then i just remembered like no i’m gonna do this for my son come on this is just a snapshot of the kind of life-changing choices u.s citizens and their loved ones all over the world are weighing as the covet 19 pandemic continues to upend immigration operations temporary closures of consulates and embassies coveted restrictions in waiting rooms and reduced staffing are all adding to a backlog of cases and longer wait times for anxious applicants by may of last year that the overall number of visas both temporary and permanent declined by approximately 95 percent so there was a precipitous decline in the total number of visas that were issued state department spokesperson telling abc news u.s embassies and consulates are working to resume routine visa services on a location-by-location basis however the pandemic continues to severely impact the number of visas our embassies and consulates abroad are able to process we do not expect to be able to safely return to pre-pandemic workload levels until 2021 at the earliest according to the immigration law group boundless the processing time for a fiance visa like alejandro’s would typically take six to nine months before the pandemic but in peru a surge of coded cases could complicate that timeline with a new wave of tough restrictions currently in place lima where alejandro lives is facing the highest level of lockdown residents only permitted to go outside for one hour each day the embassy there closed until about mid-february i really understand the measures they’re trying to take for health and safety reasons then we get to another moment like this where the u.s embassy is closed in lima it is a little bit frustrating because now that option to push paperwork through isn’t available the timing could not be worse as we checked in with the couple over multiple days we learned an outbreak of coven 19 hit the home where alejandro was staying he updated us over the phone i feel good well the truth experiencing some difficulties like like you know some people are not well feeling some symptoms but working together mutually helping each other to not like fall into a depression because of the virus supporting each other what’s the hardest part being away from him right now especially knowing that he’s with people that are sick and could potentially get sick himself yeah i just think the hardest part about being away is the unknowns like i don’t know if he’s gonna get sick or i don’t know if he has everything he needs after the call abby told us that alejandro has developed possible covet symptoms she says his home lacks basic medical supplies medicine and regular access to clean water the couple filed several requests to expedite his case before the outbreak but all were rejected but i understand that you you may have maxed out on expedited visas what does that mean they said that they were denying my most recent request the 11th one and they said we will not grant any subsequent requests and so when i got that email i felt a little discouraged i’m still looking for other ways to get alejandra here as soon as possible while the state department announced in august 2020 that it would prioritize fiance visas called k-1 visas couples like abby and alejandro have yet to hear word on where they stand in the process over seven months since they filed experts say that transparency may increase under the biden administration one of the things that we certainly expect is is for the new administration to um to change to work to change the culture within the agency and hopefully that will translate into a greater level of customer service and communication especially when there are equities at play that include families being separated right including when there is a young child that is on the way though alejandro won’t be in atlanta for the birth of their son he says they don’t regret their decision to be apart for the sake of their baby when the thoughts come of of how for example it is impossible for you to be here or to be able to come or it has been very difficult for me to be able to be supportive of you from here but yes the process is totally worth it i have no doubt about it and abby remains hopeful that there is a bright future for all three of them in america it might be hard for us right now to be a part but i have to believe that something incredible will happen in the future and i have to believe that my son can have a better life in the u.s and can have a better life if he’s a citizen maggie rooley abc news london

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