In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares some very exciting news for nonimmigrant visa applicants. The State Department recently announced that they are dramatically speeding up visa wait times for interview appointments starting with nonimmigrant visas for students, temporary workers, and tourists.
If you want to know more about this important update just keep on watching!
Did You Know? U.S. Consulates and Embassies consider requests for expedited visa interview appointments on a case-by-case basis for those who meet the expedite criteria, including those with urgent travel needs, emergencies, urgent humanitarian needs, those working for nonprofits who are furthering cultural or social interests for the U.S., those whose work is in the U.S. government or national interest, etc. To understand the expedite process, please visit the website of your closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
On December 1, 2022, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs held a live broadcast on YouTube, where Julie M. Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, discussed the status of immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world.
In the broadcast, she highlighted some important revelations, indicating that not only are visa wait times improving at U.S. Consulates and Embassies overseas, but nonimmigrant visa interview appointments are being made available much faster than ever before for tourists, students, and certain temporary workers.
Some of the Key Points she raised are as follows:
- The State Department has successfully reduced visa interview wait times with a median global wait time of just 7 weeks for a B1/B2 tourist visa appointment at most U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide.
- Similarly, the Statement Department has reduced wait times to only 7 days for F-1 students and certain temporary workers at most U.S. Consulates and Embassies Worldwide.
- Visa processing capacity is recovering much faster than initially projected thanks to policy and processing innovations implemented in 2022.
- In many countries, the State Department issued more tourist visas in 2022 than before the pandemic, including at some of the busiest Consulates in the world such as Mexico and Brazil.
- The State Department issued more student visas in 2022 than in any recent year.
- Visas for airline and shipping crewmembers were prioritized to support global supply chains, with the State Department issuing more than 250,000 crewmember visas in 2022.
- Pre-pandemic processing times were exceeded for crewmembers since June of 2022.
- State Department posts overseas adjudicated about 40 percent more visas for seasonal workers in 2022 when compared to 2019, before the pandemic.
How did we get here?
As our readers will know, the COVID-19 pandemic caused tremendous obstacles to visa processing and visa appointment scheduling at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide due to local quarantines, reduced staffing, local country conditions, and a host of other factors that directly impacted the number of applicants that could be scheduled for in-person visa interview appointments.
Unfortunately, these challenges led to a massive backlog of both nonimmigrant and immigrant visa applications, waiting for interviews across many visa categories. Since then, the State Department has made significant strides in helping address these problems to improve visa wait times for those who have been waiting months or even years for a visa interview appointment to visit, work, or study in the United States.
According to Ms. Stufft, during the past year, the State Department has been surging its overseas workforce and finding efficiencies to speed up the application process for those waiting for visas during the pandemic.
While there are obvious challenges that remain an obstacle to visa processing, the State Department’s commitment to schedule tourist visa appointments in just 7 weeks, and 7 days for students and temporary workers, is quite a significant accomplishment that will help decrease current visa backlogs. Previously, it was taking over a year for applicants to secure a B1/B2 nonimmigrant visa appointment at the busiest Embassies and Consulates worldwide.
The agency recognizes that other types of visa applicants continue to face extended interview wait times, particularly in countries where visas are in extremely high demand. Ms. Stufft has said the Department is actively working to reduce these wait times as quickly as possible.
Q&A With Julie Stufft
Q: Can applicant’s request an expedited non-immigrant visa appointment?
A: Yes. Absolutely. This is very important. Applicants who have urgent travel needs, who meet the expedite criteria, including urgent business, humanitarian, or medical criteria can apply for an emergency appointment anywhere in the world, usually available within days.
Consular sections consider these requests for expedited appointments directly on a case-by-case basis. Each Embassy or Consulate’s website has information on how applicants can directly request an expedited appointment and in what types of situations.
In general, applicants will have to submit an application form, pay the application fee, and schedule the first available appointment before requesting an expedited appointment.
Q: When will you restart full visa services at all the Consular posts?
A: Well, we already have. U.S. visa services are open for business worldwide. To find out exactly what is happening at your nearest Embassy or Consulate, you should visit their website for detailed information regarding operating status and which services they currently offer.
Our website, travel.state.gov allows you as a visa applicant to check to see where in the world or in the region the lowest wait times are for visa appointments.
Q: When will the large backlog in India go away?
A: (Decreasing wait times for) India is a huge priority for the State Department and the Bureau of Consular Affairs. India does fall into that handful of countries that I mentioned earlier with a very high demand in a wide range of visa categories. So, I can tell you that we are absolutely focused on helping all of our posts around the world, but especially India to get them the resources and help they need to bring those wait times down as quickly as possible.
Without going into specifics, I can tell you that you will see significant progress in 2023.
The bottom line is that the State Department is promising major progress in 2023, specifically as we approach the summer months all the way through the end of the year. We are expecting to see faster processing times for both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa types. However, challenges continue to remain especially for immigrant visa processing. The National Visa Center remains overburdened with the large number of cases being warehoused there, due to heavy demand and scarcity of visa interview appointments at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide. The State Department is continuing to prioritize issues relating to staffing, providing additional resources, and technology to help Consulates and Embassies reduce these backlogs, especially at posts with high demand.
Contact us. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
- U.S. Visas Update with Julie Stufft
- U.S. Embassies and Consulates
- Visa Appointment Wait Times
- USCIS Processing Times
- April Visa Bulletin
- Chats with Charlie YouTube Channel
- Immigrant Visa Backlog Report
- DOS Visa Services Operating Status Update
- ImmigrationU Membership
- Success stories
- Youtube channel
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