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US restricts visa applications

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By Deogratias Mmana:

As a result of Covid-generated constraints, the United States Embassy in Lilongwe, has temporarily closed for all visa applicants.

The embassy has announced the closure through its website www.mw.usembassy.gov./visas.

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The embassy said, in the meantime, applications from Malawi will be handled by its embassy in Lusaka, Zambia. The Lusaka office, the communication indicates, will accept humanitarian requests only for Malawian citizens and residents, at the applicant’s cost.

“Humanitarian cases may include an immediate relative’s death, a grave illness, or life-threatening accident taking place in the United States or urgent medical treatment for the applicant or their minor child,” reads the communication.

The embassy defines immediate relatives as parents, children or siblings of the applicant. The embassy specifies that humanitarian cases do not include student or employment visa applications.

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“If an expedited appointment is not granted, no refunds will be provided and you will not be able to transfer your appointment to another embassy. Again, no refunds will be provided and you will not be able to transfer the appointment to the US Embassy in Lilongwe,” the communication reads.

The US has been a crucial partner to Malawi in its fight against Covid. It has, so far, provided technical and material support for testing, sanitation and clinical care valued at K14.7 billion.

The visa applications’ closure comes at a time Malawi does not have vaccines and authorities are keeping their fingers crossed as they await the arrival of 192,000 jabs of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine this Saturday. This is a donation from the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Government of France.

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