Lengthy waits for visa appointment times in India continue

In July our newsletter included a warning about lengthy wait times for visas in India in several visa categories, including H-1B and L-1. The delays for visa appointments in India continue with the current wait times listed on the DOS website as:

- 105 days in Chennai (up from 82 days in July)
- 120 days in Kolkata (up from 96 days in July)
- 93 days in Mumbai (up from 67 days in July); and,
- 112 days in New Delhi (up from 90 days in July).

Only one Indian consulate has addressed these substantial backlogs for appointments.  Wait times are down to 2 days in Hyderabad (it was 118 days in July). To check the most recent postings for visa wait times, please visit the U.S. Department of State's website. Always remember to plan your visa stamping well in advance of any international travel, and whenever possible take advantage of the interview waiver system available at some consulates abroad for renewing your visa.

Lengthy wait times for visa appointments in India

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.

USCIS adopts recent AAO decision about L-1A functional managers

On April 14, 2016, USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum officially adopting Matter of Z-A-, Inc. and establishing policy guidance that applies to and binds all USCIS employees adjudicating L-1A petitions for managers. In its holding in Matter of Z-A-, Inc., the Administration Appeals Office ("AAO") confirmed USCIS officers must weigh all relevant factors in determining whether the beneficiary of an L-1A will manage an essential function, including evidence of the beneficiary's role within the wider qualifying international organization. 

In the instant case, USCIS had initially denied the employer's L-1A functional manager petition on behalf of one of its company Vice Presidents. In its denial, USCIS stated the Petitioner did not establish it had an organizational structure sufficient to support the Beneficiary in a qualifying managerial capacity in light of there only being two U.S. payroll employees in sales and administrative positions. USCIS suggested that because of this small organizational structure, the Petitioner had not adequately demonstrated how Beneficiary would be working in a managerial capacity rather than as a sales person or administrator. The AAO disagreed and found USCIS failed to take into account the fact that the Beneficiary, in addition to supervising the two U.S. payroll employees, also oversaw the duties performed by eight foreign staff located in Japan whose roles support the U.S. enterprise.

In making future determinations concerning managing an essential function of an organization, USCIS must now consider evidence presented by the Petitioner of personnel employed by another related entity within the qualifying organization who perform day-to-day non-managerial tasks of the petitioning entity.  To read the new Policy Memo and AAO decision in the Matter of Z-A-, Inc., visit USCIS's policy memorandum site.