U.S. Embassy Bern – Consular Affairs
LAST UPDATED: May 4, 2020
Non-U.S. citizens, due to the ongoing impact of coronavirus/COVID-19, we ask that you check this information before deciding whether to contact us.
Due to the high volume of inquiries, we will be unable to reply to any email inquiries if the question is answered here, so it is vital that you read this information in full.
We understand your concern regarding visas and travel in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We hope that this information will help answer your questions.
Can I travel to the United States? What does the recent travel order mean?
Entry is suspended, per the Presidential Proclamation of March 14, 2020, of non-lawful permanent resident (LPR) foreign nationals who were present in the People’s Republic of China, not including the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the 26 countries that comprise the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or the Republic of Ireland within 14 days prior to their arrival at the port of entry in the United States. Please review the Presidential Proclamation for detailed information.
The Department of State recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website regarding COVID-19 for the most up-to-date information.
The travel restriction does not apply to American citizens, lawful permanent residents, some immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals identified in the proclamation. The Department of Homeland Security will direct those who have been in the Schengen Area who are exempt from these restrictions, including American citizens, to travel through select airports where the U.S. Government has implemented enhanced screening procedures. Travelers are advised to visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website for further guidance on U.S. travel restrictions.
My immigrant visa application is still pending. Will my application still be processed?
On April 22, President Trump signed a proclamation suspending entry into the United States of certain immigrants who present risk to the U.S. labor market during the economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak. The proclamation is effective at 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 23 and expires in 60 days, unless continued by the President. U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and those holding valid immigrant visas on the effective date of the Proclamation, are not subject to the proclamation. No valid visas will be revoked under this Proclamation. Routine visa services have been suspended at U.S. posts worldwide, but as resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services for applicants who are not subject to this presidential proclamation. Please review the full text.
Additionally please be aware that due to the impact of COVID-19, all immigrant visa appointments have been cancelled until further notice. Please monitor our immigrant visa website for updates and further information.
I already have an immigrant visa. Is that the same as a Green Card? Am I a lawful permanent resident (LPR)?
It is not possible to apply for a Permanent Resident Card (commonly known as a “Green Card”) from outside the United States. If an individual travels to a U.S. Port of Entry as the holder of a valid immigrant visa and they are admitted to the U.S. as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), they are given the forms necessary to apply for a Permanent Resident Card.
When an immigrant visa holder is admitted as an LPR at a U.S. Port of Entry, their passport is stamped with the words “Processed for I-551 temporary evidence of lawful residence” which helps facilitate overseas travel while they are waiting for the Permanent Resident Card to be processed.
I’m a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and I’m currently outside the United States. What should I do?
The travel restriction does not apply to lawful permanent residents.
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 in order to facilitate boarding by the airline to transport you back to the U.S. Please see our website for further information about how to apply for a Transportation Boarding foil.
If a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) remains outside the U.S. for more than 12 months (or beyond the validity period of a Reentry Permit obtained prior to departing the United States), they lose their entitlement to LPR status. Information about travel and maintaining permanent resident status is provided through the USCIS website.
I am in the United States and my visa is about to expire. What should I do?
If you are currently in the United States, please be aware that the expiration date of your visa has no bearing on your length of stay in the United States. Please check the stamp in your passport applied by officials at the U.S. Port of Entry for information about your authorized period of stay. See the FAQ below for information about how to apply to extend your stay.
I’m in the United States and I’m worried about overstaying my authorized period of admission. What should I do?
If you are in the United States, please visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for information about how to apply to extend your stay. While you are in the United States, any questions about your status are a matter for USCIS, not the Embassy. If you wish to extend your stay due to special circumstances you can seek assistance from USCIS here. We recommend first reviewing the information from USCIS on special situations here.
I believe the travel restrictions do not apply to me, and I need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. What should I do?
You may book an expedited appointment to apply for a visa. Our staff individually reviews every emergency request. Please refer to our website for step-by-step information about the application process.
Once you have booked an interview date through the calendar in your Visa Appointment Service account, you can then use the ‘Request Expedite’ feature. You will be asked to briefly outline the reason that you must travel in an emergency.
Please note, appointment availability is extremely limited and we cannot guarantee that an expedited appointment will be available for you. Expedite requests are generally approved only when there is a humanitarian need for travel or when the travel is in support of COVID-19 response efforts. Please also be aware that an expedite request relates only to the date of the visa interview. An expedited appointment does not affect visa eligibility. Every visa applicant must demonstrate compliance with U.S. immigration laws.
I believe the travel restrictions do not apply to me, and I have a valid visa/I have a valid registration under ESTA. What should I do?
The Department of State does not administer the ESTA program. Information about the status of ESTA registrations at this time is provided through the only official ESTA registration at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.
If your ESTA was cancelled but you believe that you fall under one of the exemptions identified in the Proclamation, please refer to the Travel Proclamation Help on the ESTA website for guidance.
If you believe that the travel restriction does not apply to you, we suggest that you contact your airline for the latest information about your travel plans and any restrictions.
If you travel, we suggest that you carry official original documentation demonstrating why you are exempt from a travel restriction, such as a Permanent Resident card (known as a Green Card), a marriage certificate, or a birth certificate.
I am not exempt from the travel restrictions in the Presidential Proclamation, but I have an emergency need to travel and I have a valid visa/valid ESTA. Is there anything I can do?
Time-sensitive business travel, student travel, and holidays are not considered emergencies, and no exceptions will be made for any applicant without a qualifying exception.
If you have an urgent need to travel and qualify for an exception listed in the proclamation’s text, please contact us for information:
- Email: support-Switzerland@ustraveldocs.com.
- Callers in Switzerland:Call +41(0) 315 800 033 or +41(0) 435 084 000.
- Callers in the United States: Call 1-703-520-2561.
Will the U.S. Embassy in Bern be closing? Will my visa interview appointment be cancelled?
The United States Embassy in Bern has cancelled nonimmigrant, immigrant, and fiancé(e) visa appointments. We will resume routine visa services as soon as safely possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.
A nonimmigrant visa fee is valid and may be used for a visa application in the country where it is purchased within one year of the date of payment. Please note that visa fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. If you wish to apply for a visa through another Embassy or Consulate, you will be required to pay a new MRV fee and complete a new Form DS-160.
Please monitor our website and the email account you used when registering with the Visa Appointment Service (including any junk or spam folders) for the latest information and any further updates.
What if my fiancé(e) visa petition expires?
If the petition expires before the visa interview, you may revalidate the petition with a letter from the petitioner stating that you both remain legally free to marry and that you will do so within 90 days of your arrival in the United States.
You should take the letter with you to your visa interview.
Will my immigrant or fiancé(e) visa case expire? Can I continue with the application process?
If your application is being processed by Embassy Bern, you have 12 months after you received instructions about the status of your case to apply for the visa.
If the case is being processed by NVC and you have questions after checking the information at travel.state.gov and the CEAC account (if applicable), please contact NVC directly using the contact information on that webpage, which includes an online contact form.
If you have been advised that your case file has been forwarded to the Embassy in Bern, you may refer to our website for an overview of the application procedure, and begin compiling the necessary supporting documents. You may book a medical appointment and proceed with the application process after normal operations have resumed. Please monitor our website for updates.
I have a question about my existing visa application.
If you have any questions about a visa application that was submitted before the travel restrictions and the answer is not provided in these FAQs or on our website, please monitor our website for updates. After normal operations resume, you can contact us to request case-specific information.
If your application is subject to additional administrative processing, or under review pending a decision on a waiver of ineligibility or for any other reason, that will remain the status of your case until you are advised otherwise.
Can my U.S. visa be extended?
Nonimmigrant visas cannot be extended. Please check the visa in your passport to confirm the validity period of the visa.
Can I have a refund for a U.S. visa that has already been issued?
As explained at the time of fee payment, visa fees are non-refundable. The application fee is levied to cover the costs of adjudicating and processing an application.
If you have any further questions about visas, please see our website at https://ch.usembassy.gov/visas/ for detailed information.
To contact a customer service representative, please visit the GSS Contact Us page for full information or use contact information below:
- Email: To reach a customer service representative via email, please write to support-Switzerland@ustraveldocs.com.
- Telephone: Please contact a customer service representative using one of these telephone numbers:
- Callers in Switzerland: Call +41(0)315800033 or +41(0)435084000.
- Callers in the United States: Call 1-703-520-2561.
The Embassy does not administer or control ESTA. If you have ESTA questions please see https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ (including the Help section). You can find additional information and contact details for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) through their Info Center website at https://help.cbp.gov.
If you have general questions about coronavirus (COVID-19), see our website.
If you have questions about airline flights, please contact your airline.