Don Heflin, Minister Counsellor for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy, said that the country issued a record-breaking 82,000 student visas between May and June 2022, noting that India is the top sending country for students to US colleges and universities.
He also revealed some important information about US student visa applications.
In an interview with ANI, Heflin stated;
“This summer, we issued 82,000 student visas, a record for us. We set a record by issuing 62000 visas last year, and the interesting thing is that this year, due to Covid-related issues in other countries, India is the number one country for sending students to US colleges and universities.”Advertisement
Commenting on the slot booking by travel agents Heflin stated, “There is nothing illegal about it. I don’t think you need an agent just to book a slot with us. Hopefully, they are providing some other advising services. One caution that we would give people when you talk to anyone who tries to sell you a package of fake documents or tells you to make false statements, just walk out immediately because that can get you in real trouble in your student visas”.
In response to a question about complaints about the system locking applicants who keep checking the website, he stated;
“We advise people to check our site two or three times a day. That won’t get you locked out and appointments go so fast that if you are checking two or three times a day, you miss them. If you check them over and over and over and watch out for 72 hours then it’s really a bummer and we don’t like that happen to people.”
US Student Visa Applications Will Be Simplified
Heflin also stated that they may have 100% staffing by the next summer to avoid issues such as students travelling between cities to visit consulates.
“This is a result of when Covid froze everything up. We have different global advice consuls in different places. So, people rushed for appointments and people flew across the country.”
“Now, we don’t mind that when it’s a Business person or maybe a Graduate student, maybe an H1 worker. By the next summer, we’re going to be much closer to 100% staffing. So, things should even out. We think that they will get the appointment at the consul, nearest to their home”.
In response to the question of whether students on OPT (Optional Practical Training) need visa stamping, Heflin stated that this summer we started with dropbox appointments for students, which they had never been able to do before.
“This gets really confusing our graduates. If you’re in the US on OPT and you’re in status with your school and with the immigration service, you don’t have to get a new visa unless you want to leave the country. If you’re not leaving the country, you’re perfectly legal to keep knowing what you’re doing. But if You’re gonna leave the country, you need to come back here and get a visa.”
“Now, the good news is that this summer, we started with Dropbox appointments for students, which we’ve never been able to do before, and that means somebody in that situation, could grab a Dropbox appointment. They don’t go as fast as the first times, but you can grab a drop-box appointment, and then build their trip to India around that”, Heflin further added.
According to the Open Doors report in 2021, there were 167,582 Indian students in the 2020-2021 academic year, accounting for nearly 20% of all international students studying in the United States.
(Source: ANI and Live Mint)