Indians can get visa appointments at US missions abroad


New Delhi: The wait for a US visa may soon be over, although people still have to go the distance. Indians seeking B1 and B2 (business and tourist) visas, but not eligible for interview waiver like first-time applicants and whose visas expired more than four years ago, can apply at some select American embassies abroad to cut the long appointment wait period in India.

Bangkok, for instance, is among them. The wait period in Bangkok for B1/B2 interview is just 14 days, as opposed to anywhere between 589 days in Kolkata and 638 in Mumbai, as of now.

“Do you have any upcoming international travel? If so, you may be able to get a visa appointment at the US embassy or consulate in your destination. For example, US embassy in Bangkok has opened B1/B2 appointment capacity for Indians who will be in Thailand in the coming months,” the US mission in Delhi said Friday.

Indians needing to travel to the US urgently have already been going to a third country to get an appointment to apply for American visas because of the long wait here, said Anil Kalsi, joint secretary of Travel Agents Federation of India.

“The places include Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. I had a client who had his H1B stamped in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) since he could not get an appointment in India,” said Kalsi, a Delhi-based travel agent.

The US had started sending some “drop box” applications from Indians to its missions outside India, among a series of steps to cut the visa interview wait that had reached almost 1,000 days for B1/B2 cases late last year.

More Indian visa applicants were made eligible for interview waiver. These steps are now paying off with the wait period significantly dropping for interview required B1/B2 applicants to 638 in Mumbai; 617 in Chennai; 609 in Hyderabad; 596 in Delhi; and 589 in Kolkata.

“This January, the US Mission to India processed over 1 lakh visa applications. That’s more than in any month since July 2019 and one of our highest monthly totals ever. And we aren’t done yet. Our capacity will continue to increase as our team grows this spring,” the US embassy in Delhi tweeted Saturday.

The reason for the wait period has been manifold. Covid saw foreign consulates across the world send their staff back home and retain only a skeletal workforce. Around 2021, when India-US travel reopened, Uncle Sam witnessed the highest demand for visas across categories — student, work, B1/B2 and crew from India — but consulate staffing is expected to reach pre-pandemic level only this summer.

Foreign minister S Jaishankar had raised the issue of this huge backlog with US secretary of state Antony Blinken last September.


Comments are closed.