Applying for a US visa: Are you planning a trip to the United States of America? Well, the US Embassy has announced that due to a backlog of applications, Indians will have to wait until 2024 to successfully book an appointment for visitor visas. The US State Department’s website shows the average wait time is about a year and a half, meaning those planning to apply now can get an appointment for March-April 2024. The average waiting time for a visa appointment at the US Consulate in New Delhi is 522 days for visitor visas and 471 days for student visas. Also in Mumbai, the average waiting time for a US visa appointment is 517 days for a visitor visa and 10 days for a student visa.Also read – UK Student Visa Update: Average 3 weeks to approval; This way you avoid delays in the process
According to Anil Kalsi, joint secretary of the Travel Agents Federation of India, “The wait for a US visitor visa is the longest. However, once a passport is presented there, it will be returned within 10 days. The visas issued are granted 10-year multiple entry at no additional cost. That’s a big plus for the US.” Also read – The US Embassy announces a new tranche of student visa interview slots
He added that most European embassies don’t even make appointments for visas. “Sweden is one of the few countries that gives appointments. You can also get an appointment for Switzerland for the end of September. VFS has a visa-at-home service for Austrian visas (at an additional cost).” He was quoted by timesofindia.com. Also read – F-1 Student Visa: US will only allow new applications this summer, others will apply later
Average wait time for US visa appointments
- The average wait time for a US visitor visa appointment is 18 months. 581 waits for Delhi and 517 waits for Mumbai.
- Chennai the waiting time for the visitor visa is 557 days. Hyderabad has 518 days.
- Visa processing also takes longer for the Schengen countries, Canada and the United Kingdom
- The US embassy says it is trying to prioritize certain types of visas and increase consular staffing.
Applicants awaiting an interview on a US visa have exceeded 4 lakhs
According to Moneycontrol, the number of applicants waiting for a US visa interview has now surpassed 4 lakhs. The story is no different for places like Canada, which are over 20 lakhs behind. There are also delays with Schengen visas with enormous waiting times for trips to Great Britain. “For countries like France and Iceland, there are no time windows for visa appointments,” reports Moneycontrol.
The reason for the delay?
Post Omicron, there is a surge in travel demand – and visa applications – in India. Missions abroad that sent staff home during Covid-19 have yet to increase staff, causing huge delays in visa processing.
A US embassy spokesman told the Times of India that all attempts are being made to reduce the waiting time through steps such as increasing consular staff and prioritizing certain types of visas. “The U.S. Department of State is committed to facilitating legal travel to the U.S. … (It) reduces appointment wait times on all visa classes as quickly as possible worldwide. Visa processing is recovering after a near total shutdown and resource freeze during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Other embassies also acknowledged the long wait but said the surge in applications was proportional to the number of visas issued in the wake of the pandemic. “Despite the pandemic, the Canadian government admitted over 4,000 new permanent residents in 2021, 32% of whom were Indian,” a spokesman for Canada’s High Commission was quoted as saying.
As countries cope with the post-pandemic surge in travel, people are opting for alternative travel plans, but those dependent on their visas for select countries, such as students, remain hardest hit.
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