Crazy! If You Need a US Visitor Visa, You May Have to Wait Up to 894 DAYS For an Appointment!

Wow – if you need an appointment for a visitor visa, student visa, or other visa to the US, you may find that the waiting time for appointments is almost 3 years!

While there are many countries where their citizens can get easily get a tourist visa to enter the US, there are many other would-be visitors that need an appointment for a US visitor visa or a student visa or a business visa. And the waiting time for such appointments is just insane at many embassies and consulates around the world.

Waiting Times for US Visa Appointments is Just Insane

I had a friend who was doing filling out the ESTA for a visit to the US and she was wondering what would happen if she needed to make an appointment so I checked and happened to see that the wait time at the US Embassy in Athens for visitor visas was 555 days! Checking other countries showed similar or even worse waiting periods.

Now, while many people in Europe can just use the ESTA, it is not for everyone because it depends on the nationality of your passport as well as the purpose of your visit. That means that there are US embassies in Europe where people are legitimately waiting almost 2 years just to have an appointment for their visa application.

Not all of them are like this, fortunately, but there also is a somewhat strange variance. I mean, you may think that Germany and France would be similar, right? Here are the current waiting periods for Germany and France:

  • Germany
    • Berlin: 45 days for visitor visa | 3 days for student/exchange visa | 11 days for all other nonimmigrant visas
    • Frankfurt: 29 days for visitor visa | 7 days for student/exchange visa | 29 days for nonimmigrant visas
    • Munich: 22 days for visitor visa | 10 days for student/exchange visa | 29 days for nonimmigrant visas
  • France
    • Paris: 520 days for visitor visa | 8 days for student/exchange visa | 220 days for nonimmigrant visas

Since there is only Paris issuing visas, this would account for the enormous difference in waiting periods to Germany. But, this is a staffing issue so you would think the US State Department would address this and maybe shift some employees around, right?

Check out this little tidbit from the US State Department: “Note: Travel for the purpose of attending weddings and graduation ceremonies, assisting pregnant relatives, participating in an annual business/academic/professional conference, or enjoying last-minute tourism does not qualify for expedited appointments. For such travel, please schedule a regular visa appointment well in advance.”

So, if you are in France and you want to assist a pregnant relative in the US, the US suggests that you plan “well in advance” except their waiting period is 520 days so you may get there before the baby turns 2.

What Causes This Problem?

Of course, the blame for these insane waiting periods at US Embassies and Consulates all over the world has been placed on Covid. I know that these issuing points were shut down during much of the Covid shutdown but I still cannot believe some of these waiting periods.

I mean, let’s look at Athens again. Even though there is a temporary Consulate that opens every few months in Thessaloniki, the Embassy in Athens does not allow you to book far ahead for this. Rather, it opens the schedule for just 3 days of appointments and people try to grab what they can.

That means that all visa interviews are being handled out of one place in Greece – Athens. So, if you need a visitor visa, it will currently take 444 days for an interview. If you are a student, it is 15 days while all other nonimmigrant visas are currently standing at 45 days for interview appointments.

Let’s take a look at a huge country – China. You would think this may be backed up, right? Nope! The waiting time in Beijing is just 2 days for all visa appointments. Shanghai is worse at 22 days for a visitor visa, 4 days for a student visa, and 55 days for nonimmigrant visas.

Still, those periods aren’t bad for a huge country. Let’s check another large country in terms of population – India. This is where we see the worst waiting periods I can find. The current waiting period in New Delhi is 894 days for a visitor visa, 423 days for a student visa, and 304 days for all other nonimmigrant visas. Mumbai is at 872 days for visitor visas and 415 days for student and nonimmigrant visas.

That is horrible! It means that a student that needs a visa to attend a school in the US would have to wait well over 1 year just to get an appointment. If you want to plan a trip and need an appointment for your visa, start planning your trip for 3 years from now!

Waiting times in South America and Central America can also be pretty bad. Even our neighbor, Mexico, has horrible waiting periods, with visitor visa waiting periods at 644 days but just 2 days for student visas.

Something needs to be fixed at the State Department with these processing issues. Passports have been affected greatly as well, which is one of the things that makes their online renewal something exciting. I have often renewed our passports overseas and I can normally get them back in a week or two. Recently, it took over 5 weeks to get them back (and these are processed differently than those that are renewed in the US).

I mean, weeks for a passport is kind of embarrassing anyways when the country of Greece issues passports in 5 business days. Yes, I know it is a smaller country but they have also had shorter validity periods (which meant renewals happening more often) as well as it being an issue of scale – there are fewer Greek citizens but there are also fewer people working on passports. The US has a lot more people working on them.

Bottom Line

If you are someone with a foreign passport and your country is on a list that the US does not require a visa appointment for you, you can breathe a huge sigh of relief!

On the other hand, countries have shown in the past that they are up for reciprocity – in both good ways and bad. How long before countries decide that they are going to make Americans wait like America makes their citizens wait? Of course, that means not getting American dollars but if a country is serious about wanting their own citizens to get to a school in the US or something similar, who knows what they may do to make their point (but, at the same time, they may be relieved that their citizens will spend their own money at home than in America!).

What is the longest you have had to wait for a visa appointment for any country?

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