Waiting time for US visa to be reduced from 2023

On 10 November 2022, a senior US embassy official said that waiting times for US visas are expected to return to normalcy by the middle of 2023. However, some progress has already been made through rules changes and the opening of 100,000 slots for H and L work visas.

After issuing 82,000 student visas for India this year, the priority now is to reduce waiting times for non-immigrant work visas such as H and L categories, including visas for employees of shipping companies and airlines with the coveted H-1B visas , B-1 Business Visa, B-2 Tourist Visa.

The US will initially focus priority on these categories of applicants using the “drop box” feature, or who have already been issued a US visa and exempted from interviews before taking on the case of first-time applicants. The attempt, the senior official said, would be to reduce the waiting time as much as possible and move towards more normalcy by June-July 2023.

Priority will also be given to H-1B visa holders in the US who wish to come to India for a family reunion. After that priority will be given to first time applicants.

Unlike other sections of the US State Department, the Bureau of Consular Affairs – which is responsible for issuing visas – is funded from the revenue it produces. As the COVID-19 pandemic impacted visa operations and revenues, the bureau had to reshape. Once registered a huge surge in visa applications from India, it is now working to increase the workforce.

The official said the onboarding, training and deployment of staff overseas will take some more time as “the government is slow to get back on track” and the workforce in India is expected to be 100% by the summer of 2023. The US is also taking steps such as using temporary workers and sending Indian applications to remote locations for processing, especially for those using the drop box facility.

Although the US State Department website for visa appointments shows waiting times for B-1 and B-2 visas, first-time applicants in New Delhi face a waiting time of 925 days. However, the official also indicated that the actual time would be less.

The official further added that “India is now the number one priority for Washington… Only India has so many applicants across all categories, and hence it is a priority,”. The official said that experts had predicted that demand would increase only in 2025.

The US side expects the number of applications for all types of visas in India to grow to around 1 lakh or around 1.2 million annually by 2023, making the country the second largest country for visa operations after China.

Some changes in the rules mean that more Indians are eligible for the drop box facility to get interview discounts. For example, those who had a US visa that had expired in the last four years can use the drop box feature when applying for a new B-1 or B-2 visa. Students with expired US visa can also use the drop box facility subject to certain conditions.

For more such updates, Leverage Edu News Follow!

Leave a Comment