People planning to move to the United States (US) are in for a big shock, as they will have to wait until 2024 to get a visitor visa. NDTV checked the US State Department’s website, and found that the average waiting time was about a year and a half, which means that those planning to apply now will get an appointment for March-April 2024. The website states that the average wait time for visitors for visa appointments at the US Consulate in New Delhi is 522 days and 471 days for student visas.


According to the website, if the location is changed to Mumbai, the average waiting time for a US visa appointment is 517 days for a visitor visa and 10 days for a student visa. The waiting time for all other non-immigrant visas is 198 days in Delhi and 72 days in Mumbai. In case of Chennai, the waiting time for visitor visa is 557 days and for all other non-immigrant visas is 185 days. According to the website of the Department of External Affairs, applicants from Hyderabad will have to wait for 518 days to get a visitor visa.


The website’s visa page states, “The estimated wait time to receive an interview appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate may change weekly and is based on actual incoming workload and staffing. These are estimates only and do not guarantee interview availability.


In response to reports about the delay, the US Embassy said the State Department is committed to facilitating legal travel to the US for both immigrant and nonimmigrant travelers. “The US government is taking steps to reduce wait times and backlogs by reducing consular staffing gaps in the pandemic, including onboarding and training new employees,” an embassy spokesperson said in a statement. The number of American officers has more than doubled and newly trained personnel are being recruited for consular decision-making positions abroad, including in India.”


The statement said, “Visa processing is resuming after an almost complete shutdown and resource freeze during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Therefore, the US government is prioritizing national interests and second-time travelers (who are not eligible for visas). For applicants who already have a U.S. visa), which may mean that some travelers applying for their first visitor visa will have to wait longer.”


Meanwhile, the State Department said consular sections abroad can expedite applicant interview dates “if an urgent, unforeseen situation such as a funeral, medical emergency, or school start date occurs.” Visa facilitation agency VFS Global said that there has been an extraordinary increase in the number of visa applications in India and the final decision on this rests with the respective embassies. A VFS Global spokesperson said in a statement, “VFS Global has maintained its standard turn-around time of one-day processing for dispatches to relevant embassies. Decisions on visa applications, and timelines for their processing, at the discretion of the concerned. Embassies/Consulates.


Earlier, some reports said that visa processing for Schengen states, Canada and the UK was taking longer. The delay in approval of visas by the Canadian authorities also worries many people, especially in Punjab. Neetu Yadav, whose brother had applied for admission to the Canadian university, told NDTV that the academic session starts in September, but there is no update on the visa status yet.


He said, “My brother has applied for a student visa for a course starting next month and we don’t have the visa yet, and it is not verbal whether it has been accepted or rejected. Even if we postpone admission, there is none. It is guaranteed that my brother will get a place in the next session.” According to a report by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, 41 percent of study permit applications from India were rejected in 2021.  NDTV