Indians forced to wait 300-800 days for US visa appointment
Indians planning to visit the United States of America may have to wait for at least two-to-three years for a visa appointment. Screenshots on Twitter showed wait times ranging from 300-800 days for a US visa appointment across Indian cities. Speaking to External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the USA is hoping to clear the backlog soon.
Why does this story matter?
- During the pandemic, especially the Omicron phase, a lot of working professionals and students had been sent home.
- The respective organizations are yet to recall staffers and resume operations in full swing.
- Last month, the US embassy said in a statement that the Department of State had doubled consular hiring and were training new employees.
Backlog forces Indians to wait for a year
In a true nightmare-like situation, citizens planning to visit the USA are unlikely to get a visa appointment before a year in New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai. The wait times have largely been attributed to the shortage of workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reports said. The Bureau of Consular Affairs website showed long waiting hours for a non-immigrant visa interview appointment.
What are the wait times in India's megacities?
At the time of writing this story, residents in New Delhi hoping to get a visitor visa appointment will have to wait for 833 days, while students will have to wait for 430 days. In Mumbai, a visitor visa interview appointment can only be booked for 2025 (848 days), and in Kolkata and Chennai, it can only be booked for November 2024.
A glimpse into interview appointment timings
US visa interview appointment wait times: A tale of two countries pic.twitter.com/OESrkTAmez— റിംബോച്ചെ (@rimbauche) September 22, 2022
What about student visa appointments?
For student/exchange visa interview appointments, the wait time at New Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata-based US embassies is at least 430 days. Hence the appointments can only be booked for December 2023. However, in Chennai, they can be booked for 29 days from today.
Bear with us, says USA
The issue was discussed in detail during Bliken and Jaishankar's meeting in Washington on Monday, reports said. The External Affairs Minister raised the issue and said, "It is also in our mutual interest to facilitate the development and mobility of talent." Responding to the statement, Blinken said, "Bear with us...We have a plan, when it comes to India, to address the backlog of visas."
Wait-times shorter in China, Pak, Bangladesh
Interestingly, the wait time for a US visa interview appointment was much shorter in China. For a visitor visa, Beijing residents have a wait time of 2 days, while those in Shanghai have a wait time of 2-10 days only. Additionally, in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the appointment wait time for student visa interviews is much shorter- 21 days and 183 days respectively.