India close to 1,000 days: US says ‘global median B1/B2 visa interview appointment wait time under 2 months’ now


NEW DELHI: The interview waiting period for first time visitor — B1 (business) and B2 (tourist) — visa applicants in India continues to climb even as the US State Department on Tuesday said the “the global median wait time for a tourist visa (B1/B2) interview appointment is under two months as of this month.”
According to the State Department website, the waiting period for B1/B2 applicants requiring an interview as on Tuesday is 999 days in Mumbai; 994 days in Hyderabad; 961 days in Delhi; 948 in Chennai and 904 in Kolkata.
This means that the waiting period is fast approaching three years for first time visitor visa applicants or others who do not qualify for a drop box application (interview waiver) in India. Therefore, a first time B1/B2 applicant may now get date for interview in late 2025!
To be sure, Uncle Sam has in past two months taken a number of steps to reduce wait period in India but given the backlog and number of applications here, it may take several months before the interview appointment wait period falls.
“As of November 2022, the global median wait time for a tourist visa (B1/B2) interview appointment is under two months. Emergency appointments are available within days for applicants who meet the criteria. We are committed to reducing wait times as quickly as possible,” the US State Department said in a tweet.
A senior official from the US Embassy in Delhi had recently spelt out the steps being taken to expedite visa processing in India. These include making more applicants eligible for interview waiver, sending drop box cases abroad for adjudication and getting temporary staffers.
While visa applications are almost back to pre-Covid numbers, staffing at US missions in India to process the same are likely to get back that level only in about nine months or by late next summer.
Asked what applicants facing almost 1,000 days interview wait time in India should do, the official had said: “They should keep applying. Once the line starts moving and wait time drops, they can advance their interview date without any fees.”
Given the massive volume of visa applications across categories like students, B1/B2, skilled workers (H) and crew in India — the only country with that demand as of now as China is yet to open up fully, — the US is prioritising visa categories.
While students get top priority in admission season, next on the list is expediting drop box cases for skilled workers, repeat B1/B2 visa seekers (whose visas expired within four years of application that now makes them eligible for interview waiver) and crew. It could possibly be several months before the interview wait time for B1/B2 starts dropping.
In a statement on November 17, titled “addressing US visitor visa wait times”, the US State Department had said it is committed to facilitating “legitimate travel” to the US while safeguarding national security.
“Many applicants for US visas are required by law to appear in person. However, local pandemic-era restrictions on public places like our overseas consular sections curbed our ability to see visa applicants. This reduced the number of visa applications the Department could process. Now that most countries have lifted restrictions, 96% of our embassies and consulates can provide routine visa services. The combination of pent-up demand from the past two years combined with regular seasonal demand has resulted in extended wait times for US visa interview appointments in some locations – most notably for first-time visitor visa applicants and immigrant visa applicants in some countries.”
“The Department of State is successfully lowering visa interview wait times worldwide. We have doubled our hiring of US Foreign Service personnel to do this important work, visa processing is rebounding faster than projected, and in fiscal year 2023 we expect to reach pre‑pandemic visa processing levels.”
“We have exceeded pre-pandemic levels of processing in key visa categories that support the US economy.… We issued more student visas in FY 2022 than in any year since FY 2016. During the 2021-2022 academic year, international students contributed more than $32 billion to the US economy… We are processing more visas with fewer consular officers,” it added.
“We have used innovative technological solutions to electronically redistribute nonimmigrant visa workloads from overseas posts with high visa appointment wait times to other posts with additional capacity. Each day, for example, US consular officers in different parts of the world remotely adjudicate thousands of nonimmigrant visa applications for applicants from countries with long interview wait times who do not require an interview. This has allowed our consular officers in those countries to focus on first-time and other visa applicants who do require an interview,” the statement said.





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