US tourist visa appointments to resume in September



Here is some good news for those who wish to travel to the US on a tourist visa. The US has decided to restart its in-person tourist visa appointments from September. Though, wait time is expected to be longer than usual owing to high demand in visa appointments.

A statement issued by the US Mission to India recently stated that the processing of routine in-person B1/B2 visas appointments will resume in September 2022.  The statement, however, cautioned that these are not placeholder appointments.

“The Department of State has authorized consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain categories of visa applicants through 31 December 2022. This new authorization applies to travelers applying for F, H-1, H-3, H-4, non-blanket L, M, O, P, Q, and academic J visas who were previously issued any type of visa, if they are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence. This authorization does not apply to applicants who have a previous refusal that was not subsequently waived or overcome. Adjudicating consular officers may request an in-person interview if additional information is required from applicants,” the statement said.

Applicants renewing any visa within 48 months of expiration also continue to be eligible for interview waiver.

“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 non-immigrant visa appointments at the US Embassy New Delhi and the consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai,” the statement cautioned.

“As of November 8, 2021,  foreign national air travelers to the United States are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to fly to the United States, with only limited exceptions. The CDC has determined that for the purposes of entry into the United States, vaccines accepted will include those approved or authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as vaccines with an emergency use listing (EUL) from the World Health Organization (WHO). As of June 12, 2022, travelers are no longer required to show a negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding a US-bound flight.”

Consular sections across India are now also accepting a limited number of drop box applications for renewals of H, L, C1/D, O, I, F, M, and J visas at US Visa Application Centers.

The statement added: “US Embassy and Consulates in India understand that many visa applicants have paid the visa application processing fee and are still waiting to schedule a visa appointment. We are working diligently to restore all routine visa operations as quickly and safely as possible. In the meantime, the US Mission will extend the validity of your payment (known as the MRV fee) until September 30, 2023 to allow all applicants who were unable to schedule a visa appointment as a result of the suspension of routine consular operations an opportunity to schedule and/or attend a visa appointment with the already paid fee.”