Getting a B1/B2 visitor visa for the US has become a daunting task in recent times, with the appointment wait time averaging at around 600 days at the US consulates and embassies in India. This has led to a significant impact on travel plans to the US, causing many to abandon their plans altogether and miss out on seeing family and friends overseas.
The US B1/B2 visitor visa is issued to individuals who wish to travel to the US for tourism, medical treatment, business, or visiting family members. To apply for a US visa, one needs to schedule an appointment at the US embassy or consulate in their respective country. However, the wait time for an appointment in India has skyrocketed in recent times, causing a significant delay in the processing of visa applications.
In January 2023, wait times had actually decreased from the end of 2022 and appeared to be recovering. However, a comparison of wait times from January to March 2023 shows that US visitor visa appointment wait times are on the rise again at all Indian US embassies and consulates.
The reason for the extended wait time is the limited number of visa officers and the high volume of visa applications received by the US embassy in India. The US embassy in India is responsible for processing visas for not only India but also neighboring countries such as Nepal and Bhutan. This has resulted in a backlog of applications, causing the extended wait time for visa appointments.
The extended wait time has caused significant inconvenience to travelers planning to visit the US, especially those with time-bound travel plans. This has also led to an economic impact on the US tourism industry, as many travelers are opting for alternative destinations with easier visa policies.
Avoid the Wait Times: Interview Waiver Program
However, there is a silver lining for some applicants. The US embassy in India offers an Interview Waiver Program, also known as the DropBox option, for applicants who qualify. This program allows eligible applicants to skip the in-person interview and submit their application and supporting documents at one of the designated DropBox locations. The embassy will then review the application and notify the applicant of the visa decision. The wait time for dropbox appointments is significantly lower, typically around under 20 days.
To qualify for the Interview Waiver Program, the applicant must:
- You are applying in the F, H1, H3, H4, non-blanket L, M, O, P, Q, and academic J visa categories, and
- You have previously been issued any type/category of US visa, and
- You haven’t been previously refused a US visa (or if you have been refused but overcame the refusal).
- Additionally, the interview waiver program can be used for the renewal of any visa, including B1/B2 visitor visas, within 48 months of expiration.
The extended wait time for US B1/B2 visitor visas in India has caused significant inconvenience to travelers and an economic impact on the US tourism industry. However, eligible applicants can still qualify for the Interview Waiver Program to expedite their visa application process. It is advisable to check the embassy’s guidelines and eligibility criteria before applying for the program.
Also, try to schedule your interview appointment as soon as one becomes available. You can always check back and move up your appointment to an earlier date if an appointment becomes available. You can change your appointment up to 3 total times.
For more information on current visa appointment wait times, visit the travel.state.gov website.