While the wait times in Mumbai (332 days) and Kolkata (357 days) have dropped below a year, applicants opting for Chennai may still need to wait for almost two years, 680 days to be exact, for their B1/B2 visa appointments.
The US Embassy at New Delhi has the shortest wait for tourist and business visa appointments – 247 days.
For F-1 student visas
- Kolkata: 78 days
- Mumbai: 73 days
- Delhi: 74 days
- Chennai: 58 days
The United States has been taking more steps to reduce visa wait times for Indians, including moving workers from other departments around the world to visa offices in India.India was one of the very few countries where applications for US visas saw a major upswing after coronavirus-related travel restrictions were lifted.
Earlier this month, Julie Stufft, deputy assistant secretary for consular affairs, said reducing the wait time was her No. 1 priority. “It’s the first thing I do when I wake up,” she said. “It’s a once in a lifetime situation. The visa operations in India are very different from any other country because of the range of visas and the massive demand.”
Stufft acknowledged that the wait time is still “too high” in India. But the department had taken steps such as waiving interview requirements for regular travellers and opening other US embassies/consulates to take Indian applicants. “It’s not ideal but it’s helping people who need to travel urgently,” she said.
The US Embassy in India processed over 1 lakh applications just in January 2023, their highest total in a single month and the highest in any month since July 2019. In 2022, the US issued 125,000 student visas, which is more than any other year, Stufft had said.Applying from a third country
For those who cannot afford the wait, third country national (TCN) visa processing come to the rescue. A Third Country National visa is a visa application or a visa obtained from a U.S. consulate in a country other than your home country.
“Applying from a third country for many visas is a good idea. This is called third country national processing TCN is actually currently encouraged for work visas,” says Rajiv S Khanna, managing partner at immigration.com.
Special interviews & remote processing
As part of the multi-pronged approach to cut the visa backlog, the US embassy in Delhi and the consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad conducted “special Saturday interview days” on January 21, with more such interviews planned in the future.
The mission will continue to open “additional slots” for appointments to take place on select Saturdays in the coming months.
“These additional interview days are just one component of a multi-pronged initiative to address the backlog in visa processing caused by COVID-19,” it the Embassy said.
It said the US State Department has implemented remote processing of interview waiver cases for applicants with previous US visas.
Between January and March 2023, dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will arrive in India to increase visa processing capacity, it said.
The US mission in India released more than 2,50,000 additional B1/B2 appointments. While B1 is a business visa, B-2 is tourism visa.
The mission said the Consulate General in Mumbai also extended its weekday operating hours to make space for additional appointments.