“Thousands of applicants have already booked their appointments and the wait time for both interview waiver and first-time appointments has been cut in half throughout Mission India. This bulk appointment opening reflects our ongoing commitment to H&L workers,” US Embassy India said in a tweet.
“In the first nine months of 2022, the U.S. Mission to India had already processed over 160,000 H&L visas and we will continue to prioritize H&L workers for visa appointments as resources allow,” the Embassy added.
The move was first announced by Don Heflin, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, US Embassy last month.
“There are people in the United States on an H or L visa who haven’t been able to come back home to visit families since Covid started , we sympathise with them,” Heflin said.
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The embassy also announced it would be taking special measures to cut down wait times for B1/B2 visas, which are used by tourists and business people, over the next few months.
Consular officers are now temporarily authorized, through December 31, 2022, to waive in-person interviews for certain individual petition-based non-immigrant work visas and their qualifying derivatives in the following categories:
- Persons in Specialty Occupations (H-1B visas)
- Trainee or Special Education Visitors (H-3 visas)
- Intracompany Transferees (L visas)
- Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O visas)
- Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers (P visas)
- Participants in International Cultural Exchange Programs (Q visas)
Additionally, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has extended consular officers’ current ability to waive the in-person interview, through December 31, 2022, for the following other categories of non-immigrant visas: Temporary Agricultural and Non-agricultural Workers (H-2 visas), Students (F and M visas), and Student Exchange Visitors (Academic J visas).
“We recognize the many contributions of international visitors to our communities and campuses. Lastly, the authorization to waive the in-person interview for applicants renewing a visa in the same visa class within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration has been extended indefinitely,” added the release.
The waiting period for Indians looking to secure a visitor visa to the US has gone up to 800 days, according to the website of the US State Department. The waiting period is nearly 400 days for student/exchange visitor visas and other non-immigrant visas.