U.S. Consular Posts in India began reporting lengthy wait times for nonimmigrant visa interview appointments in June. These substantial waiting periods continue and affect all nonimmigrant visa applicants other than B1/B2 visitors, F-1 students, and J-1 exchange visitors and their dependents. Current wait times for appointments (as listed on the Department of State's website) for H-1B, L-1, O-1, and other affected nonimmigrant visa categories are:
- 82 days in Chennai;
- 118 days in Hyderabad;
- 96 days in Kolkata;
- 67 days in Mumbai; and,
- 90 days in New Delhi.
F-1 student visa appointments at some of the above-listed offices are taking as long as 36 days for scheduling. Accordingly, F-1 students should make visa appointments as early as possible to ensure timely visa processing for arrival to the U.S. for the fall semester.
The Department of State ("DOS") reports that demand for U.S. visas has increased by 80% since 2011 and DOS is currently requesting approval to add consular positions in an effort to decrease visa wait times. Until wait times subside, Indian nationals in the U.S. with expiring or expired visas should keep in mind the lengthy periods for obtaining an appointment and plan accordingly - perhaps even deferring international travel unless absolutely necessary to avoid extended waiting time abroad. Although expedite requests are available for humanitarian issues and business emergencies, such requests should be made sparingly and with sufficient documentation to demonstrate the exigent circumstances. Additionally, visa applicants should also consider Third Country National (typically, Canada) processing (particularly for H-1B and L-1 visa holders) as a more efficient alternative. Please note that Indian nationals require a Canadian visitor visa to enter Canada.