US Visa: Do you need to travel to the United States? Be prepared to wait three years for your visa

If you thought the US visa line couldn’t get longer, think again. For first-time applicants for the US Business (B-1) and Tourist (B-2) visas, the waiting time is now almost three years.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that “the global median wait time for an interview appointment for a tourist visa (B1/B2) is less than two months as of this month.”

In India, too, the waiting time for US visas has been exceptionally high since the country resumed processing applications in the wake of the pandemic, and it has continued to rise.

According to the US Department of State, the waiting time for B1/B2 applicants who need an interview in Mumbai is currently 999 days; 994 days in Hyderabad; 961 days in Delhi; 948 in Chennai and 904 in Kolkata. The waiting time for visitor visa applicants or others who do not qualify for a drop box (interview waiver) application in India is fast approaching three years for the first time.

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Therefore, a first-time B1/B2 applicant may not be able to get an interview until late 2025.

When asked what applicants should do with almost 1,000 days of waiting time in India, a senior embassy recently said: “You should keep applying. As soon as the line starts moving and the wait time decreases, they can bring their interview appointment forward without incurring any fees.”

“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.

To address the growing backlog, the U.S. has allowed more applicants to sit interview waivers, sent drop-box cases abroad to be decided, and hired temporary workers.

While college students are the top priority during admissions season, next on the list is expediting drop-box cases for skilled, repeat B1/B2 visa seekers (whose visas expired within four years of application and who are now opting to waive qualify for job interviews) and the crew. It could potentially be several months before the interview wait time for B1/B2 starts to decrease.

However, the United States expects processing times to recover faster than forecast, reaching pre-pandemic levels in fiscal 2023.

“The Department of State is successfully reducing waiting times for visa interviews worldwide. We have doubled our hiring of U.S. Department of State staff to complete this important work, visa processing is recovering faster than forecast, and in fiscal year (FY) 2023 we expect to achieve the state of visa processing ahead of the pandemic,” it said in a media release last week.

ET online

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