USCIS Implements Changes for US Visa Processing: Faster, Easier for Eligible Applicants

The United States has expanded its visa waiver program and plans to shorten wait times for Indian citizens seeking visit visas. Additionally, certain visa categories may be eligible for interview waivers, allowing for faster processing times. However, there are certain eligibility requirements to keep in mind.
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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently announced several updates to its visa processing procedures. These updates are aimed at reducing wait times and streamlining the application process for various visa categories. Two of the most notable updates include faster processing and interview waivers for US visas.

These updates include faster processing and interview waivers for certain visa categories, such as Visit visas for Indian citizens and various non-immigrant visa categories. However, there are certain eligibility requirements and restrictions for each of these updates that applicants should be aware of before applying.

In this article, we will delve into the details of these USCIS visa updates and what they mean for those seeking to travel to the United States for work, study, or tourism purposes.

Expanding the Visa Waiver Program

US Visa Interview Waiver

The Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) of the United States has been expanded to allow certain applicants to bypass the traditional visa application process and apply for entry into the country through the VWP. Applicants who have previously obtained a US visa and have a “clearance received” or “department authorization” status may be eligible to use the VWP.

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This waiver is valid for F, H-1, H-3, H-4, non-blanket L, M, O, P, Q, and academic J visa applicants. If more information is required, consular officers may still request an in-person interview.

Also Read: US Consulate Issues Update On Schedule for Student Visa Appointments

Shortening the Wait Time for Visit Visas

The US has also planned to shorten the wait times for Visit visas for Indian citizens by waiving the interview process. Applicants with a previous US visa and a “clearance received” or “department authorization” status may apply for a new visa using the interview waiver process.

This waiver is only available to applicants who are renewing any visa in the same category with expiration within 48 months. This means that those who have not previously held a US visa or whose visa expired more than 48 months ago must still attend an in-person interview.

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Visas Eligible for In-person Interview Waivers

The Department of State has authorised consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for several visa categories, in addition to the VWP and Visit visa updates. F, H-1, H-3, H-4, non-blanket L, M, O, P, Q, and academic J visas are among these categories.

Certain applicants, however, are ineligible for this waiver, including those who have previously been refused a visa and have not received a waiver or have overcome the refusal. Additionally, consular officers may still request an in-person interview if more information is required.

Also Read: US: Biden Administration Calls For Modernizing Broken Immigration System

Applying for the Waiver

Applicants who are eligible for the interview waiver process must allow three weeks from the time they accept their passport at the Visa Application Center until they receive their passport back. It is important to note that the interview waiver process is not automatic, and each applicant’s eligibility will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

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Current Visa Wait Times

Visa Waiting Times

The appointment wait times for various nonimmigrant visa categories vary across the different consulates in India.

For interview required categories, the wait time ranges from 1 day to 478 days depending on the visa category and consulate. For interview waiver categories, the wait time is significantly shorter, ranging from 1 day to 165 days.

The most recent wait times for US Visas in India as of May 08, 2023, are listed below; however, applicants should check the wait times for their specific visa category and consulate before applying.

Nonimmigrant Visa TypeAppointment Wait Time
DelhiMumbaiChennaiKolkataHyderabad
Interview Required Students/ Exchange Visitors (F, M, J)31 Calendar Days31 Calendar Days31 Calendar Days31 Calendar Days31 Calendar Days
Interview Required Petition-Based Temporary Workers (H, L, O, P, Q)1 Calendar Day72 Calendar Days156 Calendar Days2 Calendar Days135 Calendar Days
Interview Required Crew and Transit (C, D, C1/D)46 Calendar Days79 Calendar Days2 Calendar Days478 Calendar DaysSame Day
Interview Required Visitors (B1 visa, B2 visa)366 Calendar Days450 Calendar Days323 Calendar Days478 Calendar Days343 Calendar Days
Interview Waiver Students/ Exchange Visitors (F, M, J)1 Calendar Days1 Calendar Days1 Calendar Day1 Calendar Day10 Calendar Days
Interview Waiver Petition-Based Temporary Workers (H, L, O, P, Q)1 Calendar Day1 Calendar Days1 Calendar Days128 Calendar Days9 Calendar Days
Interview Waiver Crew and Transit (C, D, C1/D)37 Calendar Days7 Calendar Days3 Calendar Days165 Calendar DaysSame Day
Interview Waiver Visitors (B1 visa, B2 visa)2 Calendar Days11 Calendar Days4 Calendar Day165 Calendar Days14 Calendar Days

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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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