Visa appointment wait times have continued to increase for US visas over the past few months, with the wait time for visitor visas at some embassies in India topping over 900 days. On September 29, 2022, Don Heflin from the US Embassy in India acknowledged the increase in visa appointment wait times and expressed that they are doing everything they can to help improve the visa appointment wait times as they move forward in fiscal year 2023.
As you can see in the graphic above, the visa appointment wait times for visitor visas has increased for all U.S. embassies and consulates in India from September 2022 to October 2022, with the exception of Chennai. However, looking at the data, it doesn’t seem like visa appointment wait times are getting better for visitor visas at any other embassy or consulate location at this time.
H&L Visa Appointments
The US Embassy in India announced on Friday, October 14, 2022 that in response to the current high demand for employment-based visas, the U.S. Mission to India recently released over 100,000 more visa appointments for H & L workers along with their families. This resulted in thousands of new appointments booked, and as reported, the wait time for first-time appointments for these categories have been cut in half as a result of this change.
The US Embassy in India states that they are dedicated to H & L visa holders and have already processed over 160,000 H & L visas in the first nine months of 2022. They report that they will continue to prioritize H & L workers for visa appointments as resources allow.
New Option: Expedited Appointments
Don Heflin reported during the US Embassy in India’s Facebook Live event that there have been a ton more requests for expedited appointments coming through, and to make sure you qualify before making this request. Due to the immense amount of expedited requests that the U.S. embassies in India are receiving, it is very difficult for them to be approved. Even attending family weddings or graduations are being denied at this point in time. The only requests that are typically getting approved are those that require travel to see a dying or hospitalized family member, or to attend the funeral of a loved one.
During this same Facebook Live event, Don Heflin indicated that the newly rolled out USTravelDocs system would allow you to change your dropbox appointment to a regular appointment to apply for an expedited appointment. This new USTravelDocs change has now been rolled out.
Now, when requesting your visa appointment, you’ll be given two options:
- Drop-off (dropbox appointments)
- Interview (in-person interview appointments)
If your travel is urgent and the first available date for a drop-off appointment is beyond the dates of your planned travel, you should select the “Interview” option. This will allow you to schedule a regular, in-person visa interview appointment, where you can then request an emergency appointment. We recommend checking the USTravelDocs webpage here for details regarding whether or not you may qualify for an expedited appointment before you make your request.
Not Able to Travel for Diwali? Send Money Home!
If you are unable to travel or have your family travel to visit during Diwali, a great way to send your love is through CompareRemit. Diwali is a time of celebration – defeating darkness with light and spending time with loved ones. It is also a time where gifts are commonly exchanged in the form of food, money, or presents.
Diwali, or the Hindu festival of lights, is among India’s most important yearly holidays, as it represents a fresh start full of happiness and gratitude. In 2022, Diwali will begin on October 22, and end on October 26. The main day for Diwali celebrations this year falls on October 24, 2022.
If you need to send money for Diwali, visit CompareRemit to see special offers and promotions exclusive to their money transfer provider comparison platform. If you send money through CompareRemit and complete a quick 2 minute survey on your remittance experience, you’ll also be entered in to win an iPhone 14! With USD to INR rates at an all-time high, now is the perfect time to send money overseas to receive the most Indian rupees for your US dollars.
Send money for Diwali 2022 today – visit the CompareRemit Diwali campaign page for more details.
The Future of Visa Appointment Wait Times
As mentioned by Don Heflin during his September 29, 2022 Facebook Live event at the US Embassy in India, the embassies and consulates in India are working diligently to increase their workforce back to 100%, where it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. As of right now, they are only back to about 75% of employment compared to before the pandemic. This increase in staffing, with the addition of more improvements to their processes and online system, will result in decreased wait times and more processed visas within the next year.
To ensure you receive a US visa appointment in India, take the first available appointment you can find. Then, continue checking back each day to see if an earlier appointment is available. The US Embassy in India has stated that they will be releasing new appointments daily for certain visas over the next few weeks. Appointments can always be moved up if you find a sooner one.
For more information on how to book a US visa appointment in India, visit the USTravelDocs website.