10 Important US Visa Updates You Might Have Missed

The article dives into 10 crucial recent updates in the US visa landscape, promising greater accessibility and convenience for applicants. From the introduction of a new system for US visa services to reduced visa interview wait times, the changes aim to streamline and improve the application process. Learn about the latest advancements, including self-service tools for biometric appointment rescheduling, online filing for parole requests, and a new mobile app for ESTA applications.
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Navigating the complex world of US visas has always been a challenging task, with regulations and policies constantly evolving. For those aspiring to visit the United States for work, study, tourism, or to be reunited with family, staying up-to-date with the latest visa updates is crucial.

However, keeping track of all the changes can be overwhelming, especially when they occur frequently and often fly under the radar of mainstream media.

In this article, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of ten recent US visa updates that you might have missed.

Whether you’re an international student planning to study in the US, a skilled professional seeking employment opportunities, or a family member hoping to join your loved ones in the country, staying informed about these updates is essential to ensure a smooth and successful visa application process.

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Recent US Visa Updates

US Visa

From new application procedures to shifts in eligibility criteria, we’ve got you covered with all the essential information you need to know. Let’s dive in and stay ahead of the curve in this ever-changing landscape of US visas.

1. New System for US Visa Services

The US Embassy recently announced that it will launch a new visa system for the US Visa Service on July 15, but the migration to the new visa systems has been delayed and the appointment system platform, ensuring that appointment booking, fee payment, and call centre services for visa applicants will continue uninterrupted.

Although the exact reasons behind this decision have not been disclosed, the US Embassy assures applicants that all services will continue without any disruption.

2. Self-Service Tool for Rescheduling Biometric Appointments

The USCIS has launched an easy-to-use self-service tool that allows benefit requestors and their representatives to reschedule most biometric services appointments. This initiative shows USCIS’ commitment to improving customer service and meeting the objectives outlined in the Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery.

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Previously, individuals seeking benefits and accredited representatives could only request biometric services appointment rescheduling by contacting the USCIS Contact Center.

Now, individuals with a USCIS online account, on the other hand, can now reschedule most biometric services appointments without having to phone the Contact Center.

3. Changes to US Citizenship Test

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is planning to add a speaking section to the US Citizenship test, where applicants will be asked to verbally describe photos depicting everyday scenarios. Currently, officers assess speaking ability through personal questioning.

However, the proposed change has sparked concerns among immigrants who find describing photos more challenging due to English pronunciation difficulties. An immigrant from Israel fears the new format could increase stress levels, particularly for those whose first language isn’t English.

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4. Visa Interview Wait Times Reduced by More than 50%

US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti recently announced that the wait time for first-time tourist visa interviews in India has been reduced by more than 50%. He also said that the goal for 2023 is to process at least one million visas.

Currently, the visa wait time for the B1 or B2 category where an interview is required for individuals is 92 days at the Hyderabad Consulate and 597 days at the Mumbai Consulate. The current wait time for various visa categories at all consulates is as follows;

U.S. EmbassyVisitor VisaStudent VisasOther Nonimmigrant Visa
New Delhi535 Calendar Days30 Calendar Days21 Calendar Days
Mumbai597 Calendar Days23 Calendar Days39 Calendar Days
Chennai 339 Calendar Days01 Calendar Days121 Calendar Days
Hyderabad92 Calendar Days35 Calendar Days106 Calendar Days
Kolkata428 Calendar Days16 Calendar Days53 Calendar Days

5. Online Filing for Parole Requests

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that certain individuals requesting parole based on urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit can now file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, online. According to the USCIS, the following individuals are eligible to file Form I-131 online;

  • Humanitarian Parole
  • Re-Parole

To file Form I-131 online, individuals must first visit my.uscis.gov to create a USCIS online account. There is no cost to create an online account, which offers a variety of features, including the ability to receive case status updates, access all notices, and upload additional evidence.

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6. New Mobile App for ESTA Applications

International travellers planning to visit the United States can now rejoice as they gain access to a user-friendly mobile app for applying to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). This innovative solution simplifies the process, allowing travellers to complete their ESTA applications with ease and efficiency.

As all EU member states participate in the US Visa Waiver Program, citizens from these countries must obtain ESTA before travelling to the United States.

Here are some of the benefits of obtaining an ESTA:

  • You can apply for ESTA online in minutes.
  • You do not need to visit a US embassy or consulate to apply for ESTA.
  • ESTA is valid for two years, so you can use it for multiple trips to the United States.
  • ESTA is free to apply for.

7. Opening of New Consulates

Last month, while the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was in the United States, he announced the opening of two new American consulates in India. The consulates will be located in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad, bolstering bilateral ties and facilitating smoother visa processes.

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The new consulates will provide a number of services to US citizens and visa holders, including visa processing, passport services, and assistance with emergencies.

8. In Country Visa Renewal

The United States also launched a program which allows a select number of skilled Indian workers, as well as other foreign workers on H-1B visas, to renew their visas within the US itself, without the need to travel abroad.

  • The program is limited to a small number of cases at first, but it could be expanded in the coming years.
  • The program is likely to include H-1B and L-1 visas.
  • The goal of the program is to make it easier for skilled workers to live and work in the US.
  • The program is seen as a way to improve relations between the US and India.

9. US Eases Green Card Eligibility and Waiting

In a significant move, the Biden administration has released policy guidance that eases eligibility norms for Indian professionals awaiting Green Cards. The new guidance from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides relief to thousands of individuals facing lengthy waiting periods, allowing them to work and contribute to the United States.

Specifically, the USCIS issued guidance on the eligibility criteria for initial and renewal applications for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) under compelling circumstances, which is expected to offer much-needed assistance to numerous Indian technology professionals enduring extended Green Card waiting periods.

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10. Student Visa Appointments

The United States embassy in India has announced the opening of student visa appointments for the period of mid-July to mid-August. In addition to the appointments that are already available, the Embassy has said that it will release additional appointments in the coming weeks.

The availability of visa appointments across India will significantly reduce the burden on students, who previously had to travel long distances to the few select locations where appointments were offered.

Must Read: 6 Tips to Get Your US Visa Appointment Faster

Final Words

As the US visa landscape evolves, it is essential for individuals to stay well-informed about these updates, which may significantly impact their journey to the United States.

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Keeping abreast of these changes ensures that visa applicants can take full advantage of the latest conveniences and opportunities while fulfilling their aspirations to experience all that America has to offer. With these updates in place, the visa journey is set to become a more navigable and empowering experience for individuals worldwide.


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Manish Khandelwal
Manish Khandelwal

Manish Khandelwal, a travel-tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Travelobiz.com, he's passionate about writing.

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