US visa appointments in India now open for all categories but…

The US Embassy in India has accepted that it has been unable to accommodate travellers before their scheduled departure dates because of the rise in visa applicants. “Visa appointments are now open for all categories! But because of high demand, wait times remain significant,” it tweeted on September 27. On its website, it has clarified that these are not “placeholder appointments”.

What are placeholder appointments?

First-time interviewees for B1-B2 visitor visas are placeholders, who were not eligible for interview waivers. Since the interviews did not actually take place, the placeholder positions stand invalid and will be cancelled.

Also Read: US to solve visa backlog for Indians in the next few months, Antony Blinken assures S Jaishankar

Any US Visa appointment scheduled recently in the past few months is not a placeholder appointment. Booking two to three months in advance may result in a placeholder appointment that may be cancelled.

The US Embassy in India said in May, “Applicants whose placeholder appointments were cancelled may now reenter the scheduling system to book regular appointments. Appointments have been opened through 2023.”

What does the latest announcement say?

The US Embassy in India has announced that, till the end of December 2022, some types of visa applicants are exempt from having to appear in person for an interview. The authorisation, however, does not apply to applicants who have already been denied but the rejection was not later overturned or waived. If extra information from applicants is needed, adjudicating consular authorities may ask for a face-to-face interview.

Also Read: US tourist visa waiting period goes over 2 years for India

Candidates who renew any visa within 48 months of its expiration are still qualified for the interview waiver. The demand for appointments is high across all visa categories and wait times may be prolonged for the majority of routine nonimmigrant visa appointments at the US Embassy New Delhi and the consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai due to reduced staffing and numerous pandemic-related disruptions to its operations since March 2020.

Vaccine mandate

Even though there are a few exceptions, all foreign nationals travelling by flight to the United States as of November 8, 2021, must be completely vaccinated against COVID-19 and present documentation of vaccination status before boarding an aircraft.

Also Read: H-1B visa: US receives ‘sufficient’ applications needed to meet 2023 threshold

However, to board a flight with a destination in the United States, travellers will no longer need to present a negative COVID-19 test result as of June 12, 2022.

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