The US State Department on Tuesday said the “the global median wait time for a tourist visa (B1/B2) interview appointment is under two months as of this month.”
In India too, the wait time for US visas has been exceptionally high since the country resumed application processing post pandemic, and it has only been rising.
According to the US State Department, the current waiting period for B1/B2 applicants requiring an interview stands at 999 days in Mumbai; 994 days in Hyderabad; 961 days in Delhi; 948 in Chennai and 904 in Kolkata.
The waiting period is fast approaching three years for first time for visitor visa applicants or others who do not qualify for a drop box application (interview waiver) in India.
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So, a first time B1/B2 applicant may only be able to get an interview appointment for late 2025.
Asked what applicants facing almost 1,000 days interview wait time in India should do, a senior embassy recently said: “They should keep applying. Once the line starts moving and wait time drops, they can advance their interview date without any fees.”
“Emergency appointments are available within days for applicants who meet the criteria. We are committed to reducing wait times as quickly as possible,” the US State Department said in a tweet.
To address the growing backlog, the US has made more applicants eligible for interview waiver, sending drop box cases abroad for adjudication and getting temporary staffers.
While students get top priority in admission season, next on the list is expediting drop box cases for skilled workers, repeat B1/B2 visa seekers (whose visas expired within four years of application that now makes them eligible for interview waiver) and crew. It could possibly be several months before the interview wait time for B1/B2 starts dropping.
The United States, however, expects the processing times to rebound faster than projected and expects it to reach pre-pandemic levels in Fiscal Year 2023.
“The Department of State is successfully lowering visa interview wait times worldwide. We have doubled our hiring of US Foreign Service personnel to do this important work, visa processing is rebounding faster than projected, and in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 we expect to reach pre-pandemic visa processing levels,” it said in a media note last week.