On September 29, 2022, U.S. Embassy India's Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, Don Heflin, answered questions regarding visa appointments and slot booking. According to him, U.S. Embassy in India will be opening 100,000 slots (Non-placeholder) in October 2022 for H&L for the 2023 processing. The U.S. Embassy currently stands at 70% resource capacity and is expected to be at 100% by mid-next year to process the pre-COVID level number of applications. Also, changes are coming next week to the U.S. Embassy website to request an expedited interview even if you qualify/have a Dropbox Appointment. Changes are coming to the J visas; the slots for the J visas will open up separately from the F and M visa so that one will see a small number of slot openings for J visas every week. In addition, the number of times reschedule can be done might get reduced to 2 instead of 3.
Moreover, please find answers to some of the important questions below:
Question 1. Any updates on CR1 and IR1 visas?
Answer. Immigrant visa operation in Mumbai is steadily cutting into the backlog. It is expected that within the next year, it will be back to pre-COVID waiting times, which weren't long at all. So, the backlogs are expected to clear by next year.
Question 2. Why is the wait time in India so long?
Answer. It is not an embassy-specific problem. Embassies in Mexico and Brazil are also facing similar wait times.
Question 3. How long is the fee payment valid for a B1/B2 visa?
Answer. So that the fee does not expire, you need to book an appointment by September 30, 2023.
Question 4. The DS-160 has specific travel plans mentioned as part of the application, but the appointments are much further into the future than you might have planned.
Answer. Just give it your best shot. Write down something that's honest or guess. U.S. Embassy is not going to hold that against you.
Question 5. Can a person make a B1/B2 drop box appointment if they've only had an H or an L visa in the past?
Answer. No, you cannot.
Question 6. Is it possible to use the interview visa waiver process if your visa expired more than 48 months ago?
Answer. No, it's not. But it is in the non-petition-based categories. So, if you need to renew a work visa and your prior work visa had expired more than 48 months ago, you still can be eligible for the interview waiver because you are in a petition-based category.
Question 7. Can you apply for a visa in a different country, as the wait time in that country is less?
Answer. Yes, you can, but you need to make sure of three things; i) Make sure that the U.S. Embassy there is accepting cases from people who don't reside there. It'll be on their website; ii) Make sure that the country you are going to apply for the visa doesn't require a visa from you. If it does, get that first; and iii) You will have a lot more luck doing that if you're a Dropbox renewal case. So, if you are a first-timer going from any country to a third country to try and get a U.S. visa, usually the percentages aren't with you, but if you're renewing a visa you've had before, it can be done.
Question 8. As you may know, third-party agents can use multiple accounts to book many slots, making it difficult for individuals to book slots. So, what actions are the U.S. Embassy in India taking to prevent this?
Answer. What the agents are doing is not illegal; however, Embassy does not like it. Embassy thinks you don't need an agent to book yourself a slot. U.S. Embassy has made software changes that have made it more difficult for them. Now, we have started opening up a lot of appointments at once so that even the average person can book appointments.
Question 9. When will the next sets of Appointments going to open up for F-1 Students?
Answer. The appointments will run from late November until the end of December. The first half will open up about mid-October, and then we'll open up the second half by mid-November.
Question 10. If you are 75 years old, do you qualify for the interview waiver?
Answer. No, you must be over 79 to qualify for the interview waiver.
Question 11. So, even if you qualify for a Dropbox, can you still interview in person?
Answer. U.S. Embassy is making a software change, allowing individuals from next week to schedule an interview in place of the drop box.
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