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U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 2, 2003

Question: Is the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela planning to cease visa operations as of January 20, 2002? If so, why?

Answer: The U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela released a press statement December 27, 2002, announcing that due to a reduction in staff, effective Monday, January 20, 2003, the non-immigrant visa section of the Embassy would be closed to routine visa applications until further notice.

Beginning January 20, the non-immigrant visa section will only accept visa applications for high-level Venezuelan officials and diplomats, third-country diplomats who are accredited to Venezuela, the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens who wish to depart Venezuela temporarily, and documented emergency humanitarian and medical cases.

U.S. Embassy Caracas will notify the public when non-immigrant visa appointments scheduled on or after January 20, 2003, can be rescheduled. The Embassy regrets this measure and hopes for a swift peaceful, constitutional, democratic and electoral resolution to the crisis affecting Venezuela.

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela has been on Ordered Departure status for all non-emergency personnel and eligible family members since December 20, 2002.

Released on January 3, 2003