US visa appointments now open - wait times significant due to high demand: US Embassy

The US embassy has invited visa applicants to join a Facebook and Instagram Live session hosted by Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs Don Heflin on September 29 at 3 pm on the current operating status and visa processing at consular sections across India.

The US Embassy and Consulates in India on September 27 announced on its website that due to the high volume of visa requests, they cannot accommodate all travellers prior to their planned travel dates, even if the purpose of travel is time sensitive.  The embassy said that if one plans to apply for a non-immigrant visa to reach the United States as a temporary visitor, he/she needs to review the current wait time for an interview using a tool on the website, since the demand is very high. 

The embassy went on to say that due to reduced staffing and numerous pandemic-related disruptions to operations since March 2020, appointment demand for visas is high across all categories and wait times may be longer for most routine non-immigrant visa appointments at the embassy in New Delhi and the consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai. 

The embassy had resumed processing routine in-person B1 and B2 visa appointments from this month. These are not placeholder appointments.  The embassy pointed out that the Department of State has authorised consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain categories of visa applicants until December 31, 2022. 

This new authorisation applies to travellers applying for F, H-1, H-3, H-4, non-blanket L, M, O, P, Q, and academic J visas, who were previously issued any type of visa, and if they are applying for a visa from their country of nationality or residence. This authorisation does not apply to applicants who have a previous refusal that was not subsequently waived. Adjudicating consular officers may request an in-person interview if additional information is required from applicants. 

Applicants renewing any visa within 48 months of expiration also continue to be eligible for an interview waiver.  But, the US Department of State/Travel.State.Govt website mentioned that embassies and consulates may have a separate process for visa cases where the in-person interview requirement is waived.  It is said that in general wait times for those cases are shorter, but applicants should check the individual embassy or consulate website to determine if their case is eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview. 

The US Embassy said many visa applicants have paid the visa application processing fee and are still waiting to schedule a visa appointment. Hence, it is working diligently to restore all routine visa operations as quickly and safely as possible.  The US Mission will extend the validity of their payment (known as the MRV fee) until September 30, 2023, 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 attend a visa appointment with the already paid fee. 

Non-immigrant visa waiting period now exceeds 2 years 

Given the easing of limitations after the coronavirus pandemic and the regularisation of international flights, many Indians are currently getting ready to go overseas. But, to secure a visitor's visa to the US, individuals may now have to wait longer than two years.  The waiting period for a non-immigrant visa is different for different Indian cities and for different visa categories.  At the end of the day on September 27, in Delhi, the waiting period for Visitor Visas is 833 calendar days, 430 calendar days for Student/Exchange Visitor visas and 390 calendar days for all other non-immigrant visas. 

In Mumbai, the waiting period is 848 calendar days for Visitor visas, 430 calendar days for Student/Exchange Visitor visas and 392 calendar days for all other non-immigrant visas.  In Hyderabad, the waiting period is 848 calendar days for Visitor Visas, 430 calendar days for Student/Exchange Visitor Visas, and 219 calendar days for all other non-immigrant visas.  In Chennai, the waiting period is 780 calendar days for Visitor visas, 29 calendar days for Student/Exchange Visitor visas and 415 calendar days for all other non-immigrant visas. 

Below are the 6 ways to get a green card in the US.

Family based green card.

The family-based green card is the most common type of green card in the United States. Under this, a person can get a green card for themselves and their spouse and children under 21 years old. 

1

Get a transfer.

One of the simplest ways to become a permanent resident in the US is to get an inter-corporate transfer, and shift from your country to the US. 

2

Get a student visa.

Getting a student visa to study in the US will entitle you to a work permit, following which your employer can apply a H1B visa for you. Eventually, you can apply for a green card. 

3

Employment based green card.

The Employment-based green card is a permanent residence permit granted to a foreigner who has been offered employment in the US.  A person can apply for this visa if they have been offered a job that requires at least two years of training and experience. The applicant must also be qualified for the position and be able to work in the US.

4

Green card lottery.

The green card lottery is a process by which people from countries who have low rates of immigration, or who are not eligible for any other type of visa, can get permanent resident status in the US. 

5

Be an achiever.

If you are an achiever and have a good educational background and work experience, then you can get green card.  Green card is a legal document that allows the bearer to live and work in the United States. 

6

In order to get green card, one has to meet certain requirements like: 

-You should have a good educational background and work experience in your home country. -You should be able to prove that you are not going to be a burden for the society of your new country. -You should not be involved in any criminal activity.

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