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US visa: Interview wait time goes up to almost 1,000 days for B1, B2 applicants in India; embassy cites staff shortage

US visa: Interview wait time goes up to almost 1,000 days for B1, B2 applicants in India; embassy cites staff shortage

US visa interview wait time: A first-time B1 or B2 visa applicant from India may get an interview date sometime in 2025. 

The US Embassy explained that wait time for non-immigrant visa applicants has gone up due to reduced workforce and coronavirus-related restrictions in operations since March 2020. The US Embassy explained that wait time for non-immigrant visa applicants has gone up due to reduced workforce and coronavirus-related restrictions in operations since March 2020.

The interview waiting time for applicants for first-time visitor visas – B1 (business) and B2 (tourist)-- is continuing to go up to almost 1,000 days even as the median worldwide time has come down to about two months globally. Applicants have to wait for 999 days in Mumbai, 994 days in Hyderabad, 961 days in Delhi, 948 days in Chennai, and 904 days in Kolkata, as per the US State Department website. This implies that a first-time B1 or B2 visa applicant from India may get an interview date sometime in 2025. 

The US State Department said in a media release, “As of November 2022, the median worldwide wait time for a tourist visa (B1/B2) interview appointment is about two months, and applicants with urgent travel needs who meet certain criteria can apply for an emergency appointment, usually available within days.”

The website further read, “We are committed to continuing our progress and further reducing visa interview appointment wait times as quickly as possible.” 

The US Embassy explained that wait time for non-immigrant visa applicants has gone up due to reduced workforce and coronavirus-related restrictions in operations since March 2020. The US Embassy stated, “Due to reduced staffing and numerous pandemic-related disruptions to our operations since March 2020, appointment demand is high across all visa categories and wait times may be lengthy for most routine nonimmigrant visa appointments at the US Embassy New Delhi and the consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai.”

This wait is, however, limited to only those applicants who don’t qualify for the drop box application or interview waiver in India. Drop box facility refers to the process of applying for the renewal of a US visa without an interview and those holding business and tourism (B1/B2 visas), work (H1-B and L visas), other visas, and students and exchange visitors are eligible for this facility. 

Amid a likely delay in the visa process, the State Department said it processed 94 per cent of the non-immigrant visas at the end of FY2022 it processed in FY2019 and 130 per cent of immigrant visas at the end of FY2022 compared to FY2019. It added that US embassies globally continue to add more staff abroad but have implemented measures that allow them to do more work with fewer resources. 

Also read: US B1 and B2 visa appointments open after two years: Check details here on interviews, backlogs

Also read: H1-B Visa: What is the 'drop box' facility and why is the US giving preference to it?