U.S. Visa and Travel FAQs for Non-U.S. Citizens Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

We understand your concern about visas and travel in light of the continuing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We hope that this information will help answer your questions.  Any updates to the Presidential Proclamations, travel restrictions, and visa operations will be posted on this page.

[Last updated June 12, 2021]

U.S. Embassy Praia has resumed all routine consular services.  However, due to the prolonged suspension of services and ongoing capacity restrictions, all services are subject to longer than unusual wait times.  The health and safety of our personnel, U.S. citizens seeking assistance abroad, individuals seeking immigration benefits, and local populations is paramount.  Consistent with the U.S. Department of State’s global guidance, we are prioritizing American citizen services and immigrant visa applications while beginning to provide some nonimmigrant visa services.  In addition, consistent with U.S. government guidance on safety in the federal workplace, U.S. Embassy Praia has implemented social distancing and other safety measures, which have reduced the number of applicants we are able to process each day.

U.S. Citizen Services

The provision of services to U.S. citizens abroad is the first priority of consular sections. To request an appointment to renew a passport, apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), or have a document notarized, please use the Embassy’s on-line appointment system.  You can review the requirements and fees for passportsCRBAs, and notarials on our website.  If you are a U.S. citizen in Cabo Verde and require an emergency passport or other Embassy assistance, please email PraiaConsular@state.gov.

Non-Immigrant Visas

Interviews for all categories of non-immigrant visas can be scheduled on the Embassy’s scheduling website.  If you need to travel sooner than the first-available appointment, you may request an expedited appointment through the scheduling website.  If your expedite request is declined, the MRV fee remains valid and may be used to reschedule a non-immigrant visa interview through September 30, 2022.

Immigrant Visas

Applicants for immigrant visas that were in progress when routine services were suspended in March 2020 are being contacted individually with instructions on the next steps to complete their cases.  For new cases, consistent with the Department of State’s prioritization instructions, U.S. Embassy Praia is maximizing our limited resources to accommodate as many immediate relative and fiancé(e) interviews as possible.  Additionally, all those whose immigrant visa interviews were canceled in March and April 2020 will be scheduled by the end of 2021.  The U.S. Embassy will contact eligible applicants directly regarding their appointment and processing requirements.  The lengthy suspension of services and need to maintain physical distance among our staff and applicants has led to greatly reduced appointment capacity, which has created a significant backlog of immigrant visa applicants awaiting an interview.  This is a global issue, so we appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to work to reduce this backlog.

Lawful Permanent Residents

Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) whose LPR card (“green card”) is lost or stolen may apply for a boarding foil.  Learn more about options for LPRs with an expired or lost green card here.  LPRs who have remained outside of the United States for more than one year may also apply for an SB-1 (returning resident) visa; the requirements and fees for an SB-1 visa can be found here.  To make an appointment for either service, please email PraiaConsular@state.gov.

Foreign nationals with a valid B-1/B-2 tourist visa (or ESTA) may enter the United States via direct travel between Cabo Verde and the United States or via North Africa (Senegal or Morocco) without any special authorization from the U.S. Embassy.

However, Presidential Proclamations 9993 and 10143 remain in effect and prohibit entrance to the United States of foreign nationals who travel from Europe, including Portugal.   This includes transiting Lisbon or Ponta Delgada without leaving the airport.  U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents are exempt from the proclamations, as are the spouses and minor children (under age 16) of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. There are other limited exceptions detailed in the Proclamations (refer to the full text here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/25/proclamation-on-the-suspension-of-entry-as-immigrants-and-non-immigrants-of-certain-additional-persons-who-pose-a-risk-of-transmitting-coronavirus-disease/).

If you have a valid B-1/B-2 tourist visa, wish to travel to the United States via Europe, and believe you may qualify for a National Interest Exception due to an urgent, humanitarian need for travel, please email us at PraiaConsular@state.gov with the subject line “National Interest Consideration” and the below information:

  1. Passport bio page
  2. Copy of valid visa
  3. Copy of documentation supporting urgent humanitarian or business purpose of travel
  4. Proof of planned travel within 30 days

If you do not have a valid visa and would like to apply for a non-immigrant visa for emergency travel, please follow the instructions for applying for a non-immigrant visa here: https://cv.usembassy.gov/visas/nonimmigrant-visas/.  After you have scheduled your appointment, you may request an expedited appointment through the scheduling website.  If your expedite request is denied, you have until September 30, 2022 to reschedule your NIV appointment.

Only the U.S. Embassy can grant a National Interest Exception, airlines and travel agents are not authorized to do so.  Such exceptions will be granted only very rarely, on a case-by-case basis determined by specific, demonstrated circumstances.  You should not make any travel reservations for travel via Europe until you have received confirmation of your National Interest Exception from the U.S. Embassy.  You will also receive a letter from the Consul and/or an annotation on your visa stating that you have been granted a National Interest Exception, which you will need to present to your airline and upon entry into the United States.

Yes.  Effective April 8, 2021, the U.S. Secretary of State determined that travel on an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa is in the national interest for purposes of granting exceptions under the Presidential Proclamations.  In other words, if you hold a valid immigrant or fiancé(e) visa, you may now transit any of the listed counties (including Portugal) before entering the United States.  Airlines and local immigration authorities have been notified of this change and no additional travel authorization letter from the Embassy is required.  As explained above, Presidential Proclamations 9993 and 10143 continue to bar entry into the United States from non-immigrant visa holders transiting listed countries unless they have been granted a national interest exception and hold a travel authorization letter from the U.S. Embassy.

The Presidential Proclamations do not include an exception on the basis of negative COVID-19 test results. Please review each Proclamation in full for details of possible exemptions.  Those permitted to enter under the various travel restrictions – including foreign nationals with valid visas who are exempt from the restrictions, U.S. citizens, and U.S lawful permanent residents – are required to present negative COVID-19 test results in order to enter the United States as described below.

On January 25, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order requiring a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery for all passengers age two and over arriving into the United States from any foreign country, with limited waivers.  The new CDC order requires a negative viral test (NAAT or antigen) within the three days before the traveler’s flight to the United States departs, or three days preceding departure of the initial flight if the passenger is arriving via one or more connecting flights.  Passengers must show written or electronic documentation of their negative test results to the airline or provide documentation of recovery from COVID-19.  Documentation of recovery is a positive viral test result that confirms previous COVID-19 infection and a letter from a licensed health care provider or public health official stating that the passenger has been cleared for travel.  The test can be conducted in a location along the flight itinerary in cases where there is a stopover along the itinerary.  Airlines are also required to collect attestations from passengers on their test results or documentation of recovery before passengers board.  The attestation and additional information about the new testing requirement can be found on the CDC’s website here: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/fr-proof-negative-test.html

Waivers to the testing requirement may be granted by the CDC on an extremely limited basis when extraordinary emergency travel (like an emergency medical evacuation) must occur to preserve someone’s health and safety, and testing cannot be completed before travel.  There are no waivers available for individuals who test positive for COVID-19.  Individuals – or air carriers seeking to allow boarding by potentially qualifying individuals – who believe they meet the criteria for a waiver should contact U.S. Embassy Praia at PraiaConsular@state.gov and provide the information below.  U.S. Embassy Praia will then submit the request to the CDC for consideration.

The following information must be provided for each passenger:

  1. Name (family name/surname, given name), passport number and country
  2. Cell phone number including country code of passenger or head of household if family unit
  3. Email address of passenger or head of household if family unit
  4. U.S. destination address
    1. Is U.S. destination home address?
  5. Departure date
  6. Flight itinerary
  7. Name of submitting entity if different from passenger
  8. Name of company submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
  9. Name of point of contact submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
  10. Phone and email address for POC submitting waiver request on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
  11. Purpose of travel to the U.S. (provide brief explanation of why urgent travel is needed and how travel will contribute to health and safety of passengers(s))
  12. Justification for testing waiver (e.g. no testing available, impact on health and safety)
  13. Documentation to support justification for test waiver, if available (e.g. medical records or orders for medical evacuation)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following measures for all international arrivals into the United States:

  • Get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home to self-quarantine for 7 days after travel.
    • Even if you test negative, stay home to self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
    • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.​​
  • ​If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home to self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.​
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

Always ​follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.

If you would like to make an appointment to pick up your Cabo Verdean passport, please email PraiaConsular@state.gov with your first and last names as listed in your passport and your date of birth.  Please be advised that your returned passport will not include a valid U.S. visa since all passports with printed visas were returned prior to the suspension of routine services in March 2020.

Yes.  The U.S. Embassy in Praia has resumed all American Citizen Services including all passports, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBAs), and notarial services.  To request an appointment, please use the Embassy’s on-line appointment system.  To ensure adequate social distancing for both staff and customers, the Embassy is operating with reduced on-site staffing, so there may be a longer than usual wait for an appointment.  If correct and complete documents are presented at the appointment, it will take approximately 4-6 weeks from the date of the appointment to receive a U.S. passport.  Please find information about passport procedures and fees on our website.

U.S. Embassy Praia has resumed processing of student visa applications.   Please find instructions for applying for a non-immigrant student visa on our website and below.

How to apply and schedule an interview:

  • Step 1 – Complete the DS-160 online (https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/).
  • Step 2 – Submit the application electronically.
  • Step 3 – Go online and print out the confirmation page with bar code at: https://ais.usvisa-info.com/pt-cv/niv.
  • Step 4 – Pay the fee at BCA.
  • Step 5 – Wait 48 hours for the data to replicate. Note, if you pay on a Friday, a holiday, or a weekend, you must wait 72 hours for the data to replicate.
  • Step 6- Go back online (https://ais.usvisa-info.com/pt-cv/niv) to schedule an appointment.
  • Step 7- Input the MRV ID number from the MRV fee receipt.
  • Step 8 – Select an appointment that is convenient for you.

After you have scheduled your appointment, you may request an urgent appointment through the scheduling website.

As explained at the time of fee payment, visa fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.  The U.S. Department of State understands that many visa applicants have paid the visa application processing fee and are still waiting to schedule a visa appointment. We are working diligently to restore all routine visa operations as quickly and safely as possible. In the meantime, rest assured that U.S. Missions will extend the validity of your payment (known as the MRV fee) until September 30, 2022, to allow all applicants who were unable to schedule a visa appointment as a result of the suspension of routine consular operations an opportunity to schedule and/or attend a visa appointment with the already paid fee.  Please continue to monitor this site for information on when we will return to routine visa operations.

If you are applying for an immigrant visa and the case is being processed by the National Visa Center (NVC), please click here and visit your CEAC account (if applicable) for status information. Please contact NVC directly using the online contact form on that website if you still have questions. The Embassy cannot answer any questions about NVC cases, including any questions about expedite options or about appointments.  Due to the lengthy suspension of routine visa services, there is currently a delay for interviews at U.S. Embassy Praia and globally, with more than half a million applicants with approved and complete petitions awaiting interviews worldwide.  (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/visas-backlog.html)  We appreciate your patience and understanding as we take small steps towards reducing this backlog safely.

Immigrant visas cannot be extended.  If your immigrant visa has already expired due to circumstances beyond your control, your visa will be reissued.  At this time, U.S. Embassy Praia is contacting those with expired immigrant visas who are currently eligible to travel under the COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

As explained above, the travel restriction (PP 9996) does not apply to legal permanent residents (LPRs).  You must return to the United States within one year of your original departure in order to retain your lawful permanent resident status.

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 information about how to apply for a Transportation Boarding Foil.

As you may be aware, if a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) remains outside the United States 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 and will need to apply for an SB-1 (returning resident) visa.  Requirements and fees for the SB-1 visa can be found here.  To make an appointment to apply for an SB-1 visa, please email PraiaConsular@state.gov  Information about travel and maintaining permanent resident status is provided through the USCIS website.

If you are in the United States, please visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to apply for an extension of stay by completing a Form I-539 here.  While you are in the United States, any questions about your status are a matter for USCIS.  Information and contact details can be found on the USCIS website.

If this page has not answered your question, you can email us at PraiaConsular@state.gov.

If you have general questions about coronavirus (COVID-19), check our website for a list of useful resources.

If you have a question about flights, please contact your airline.