Due to delays in interview dates, hundreds of thousands of Indians are struggling to get their US visas on time. Experts suggest that those who can afford it might be able to combine a short overseas vacation with a US visa interview to expedite the process.
Indians are currently facing delays in getting interview dates for B-1 & B-2 US visitor visas, and in some cases for H-1B and L-1 work permit visas. Even though the US embassy has made few plans or arrangements to speed up the process, a trend is emerging of scheduling interviews much faster using the ‘third country’ option.
The third country option will help people schedule their interview faster, since thousands of Indians are in queues for US visa interviews and have dated only in February next year or even later, and they do not qualify for waivers. Countries that are emerged as alternative visa interview destinations for Indians are Thailand, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates; and Singapore.
Interestingly it is said that a whopping 50,000 Indians have already taken advantage of the facility to get their US visas on a fast track from overseas; in the first few months of this year.
Donald L Heflin, minister-counsellor for consular affairs at the Embassy of the US in New Delhi, said, “I have had a client travel to Singapore, with his wife, recently for their L-1 US visa interviews. They had to wait there for a week for their passports to be returned by post to a local address with the visas stamped,”
S. Vijay, founder & CEO of eTravelvalue India Pvt Ltd, said: “Thailand is another hot destination where Indians are going for their B-1, and B-2 visa interviews and Dubai is also popular. While it is taking about a week to ten days to get visa interviews and the passports stamped in these other countries; in India, interview dates are available only around February next year despite the efforts by the US government to clear the backlog,” he said.
Even though many Indians are considering the possibility of travelling abroad for US visa interviews, there are certain difficulties they must overcome. The US government portal for the consular post that applicants are planning to go to.
“Those who have completed their application and scheduled an appointment in their home country, need to cancel this appointment and write to the support-India ID requesting for transfer of their ustraveldocs profile to the country where they wish to apply,” warns immigration lawyer Poorvi Chothani.
“The appointment wait times for non-residents of the country (where the application is being submitted) is definitely longer than for the residents of that country, but yet the wait times are considerably lower than in India. Non-resident appointment wait times can be seen at the next stage after the correct visa priority category is selected by the applicant,” Chothani adds.