The US Embassy in India recently announced the opening of a staggering “quarter million nonimmigrant visa appointments” over the weekend, sparking hope among prospective travellers. However, this development comes with a catch – these appointments are currently unavailable for the year 2023.
The embassy’s announcement on social media was met with frustration from many applicants, who found that there were no available dates for 2023 when they tried to book appointments.
High Demand, Limited Availability
The US Embassy in India took to social media to share the news of the substantial increase in visa appointment slots, stating, “It was a busy weekend for our consular team! Over the weekend, we opened over a quarter million nonimmigrant visa appointments.”
— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) November 1, 2023Advertisement
The announcement raised expectations among visa applicants, but their enthusiasm was short-lived.
Long Wait Times
When individuals attempted to secure their visa appointments, they were greeted with a disheartening reality.
A US visa applicant, who was seeking to reschedule his existing US visa appointment originally scheduled for May 24, discovered that “there are no dates in Mumbai till June 2024,” and the “earliest from Delhi is February 22, 2024.”
Similar experiences were shared by others, with some reporting availability only for September 2024.
Applicants also encountered technical issues, making it even more challenging to schedule appointments. One frustrated user reported, “No appointments, portal issues restrict applicants from scheduling any appointments. There is no submit option when I try to schedule an appointment… email sent… awaiting swift action.”
Ongoing Visa Wait Times
As of last week, the Department of State- Bureau of Consular Affairs website reveals that the wait time for US tourist visas from various Indian cities remains significantly lengthy, with waiting periods ranging between 506 and 596 days. Here is the current status of selected cities:
- New Delhi: 542 days
- Mumbai: 596 days
- Kolkata: 539 days
- Chennai: 531 days
- Hyderabad: 511 days
Progress Despite Challenges
Despite these long wait times, it’s important to note that the 500-day wait period for a tourist visa represents a significant improvement from the 1,000-day wait period earlier this year.
Over the past year, concerted efforts have been made to address the extended wait times that had reached nearly three years in the winter of 2022.
To tackle the visa application backlog and meet the rising demand, Indians were offered the option to apply for US visas at US consulates located outside India, such as the one in Bangkok, where the visa wait time is considerably shorter.
As travellers continue to navigate the evolving landscape of US visa appointments, the US Embassy in India is expected to make further announcements and adjustments to address the ongoing challenges faced by visa applicants.