The coronavirus pandemic led to the suspension of U.S. visa services around the world. As restrictions start to ease, most U.S. embassies and consulates have resumed certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments.
An applicant can schedule a US visa appointment anywhere in the world. If they are traveling and would need to schedule their US visa interview appointment in a third country, the applicant can very well do so. It is not mandatory to schedule their appointment in the same location as in their DS-160. This can provide on-the-go accessibility for everyone.
Interviews can only be Scheduled in English
The U.S. visa applicants in India can no longer schedule their visa interviews in their preferred language. However, a recent change in the system indicates that from now on (later part of August 2022), applicants can schedule the interview only in English and the applicants may choose to request the consular officer to conduct the interview in the preferred language during the visa interview. If the applicant fails to request for preferred language/translator at the time of the interview, the consular office may conduct the interview in English.
The USCIS will open seats for first-time B1/B2 interviews in September 2022 and will continue until late 2024. B2 visa applicants mainly use language preference and this recent development could lead to more interview dates being made available for B1/B2.
In-person Interview Waiver for Certain Visas
The US embassy said that department has also authorized consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain categories of visa applicants through December 31, 2022.
Under this authority, consular officers have discretion to waive the visa interview requirement for individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q applicants in the following ways:
- Applicants who were previously issued any type of visa,
- Who have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived,
- Who have ineligibility or first-time individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
- Applicants who have travelled to the United States using an authorization obtained via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
The consular sections across India are now accepting a limited number of dropbox applications for renewals of H, L, C1/D, O, I, F, M, and J visas.
Machine Readable Visa(MRV) Fee Payment Validity Status:
To ensure that all applicants have adequate time to schedule a visa appointment, the US Consulate in India has extended the MRV charge (Visa Appointment Booking Fee) payment validity to September 30th, 2023.
The embassy understands that many visa applicants have paid the visa application processing fee and are still waiting to schedule a visa appointment. Hence, it is working diligently to restore all routine visa operations as quickly and safely as possible.
Emergency Appointments for Dropbox
According to the new guidelines for Emergency Appointments, if an applicant is qualified for the dropbox but still requires an emergency appointment, they must answer ‘No’ to the question “Whether they held a previous US visa” and then submit an Emergency appointment request.
All applicants requesting an emergency appointment are required to first pay visa fees for a regular visa appointment. Applicants who are granted an emergency appointment but subsequently refused a visa or missed their interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate will not be allowed to utilize this option to obtain another emergency appointment.
Foreign national air travelers to the United States must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to fly to the United States, with only limited exceptions. The CDC has determined that for the purposes of entry into the United States, vaccines accepted will include those approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as vaccines with an emergency use listing (EUL) from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Covishield and Covaxin are both accepted for the purpose of entry into the United States.