By Dev B. Viswanath, Esq.
The U.S. Mission to India has resumed processing routine in-person B1/B2 visa appointments starting September 2022. It is pertinent to note that these appointments are not placeholder appointments. That means that if you have a date that is locked in for a visa interview in the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2022, that date will not be automatically canceled by the consulate because it was merely a spot holder so people could request emergency appointments.
The mission is already seeing appointment dates opening up, but also advising that anyone who has scheduled appointments for 2023 dates, that they double-check to make sure the appointments are not placeholder dates because the consulate is still offering placeholder dates and canceling appointments that are on placeholder dates.
Appointment demand is high across all visa categories and wait times may be longer for most routine nonimmigrant visa appointments at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and the consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai.
The Department of State has authorized consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain categories of visa applicants through 31 December 2022. This new authorization applies to travelers applying for F, H-1, H-3, H-4, non-blanket L, M, O, P, Q, and academic J visas who were previously issued any type of visa, if they are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence. This authorization does not apply to applicants who have a previous refusal that was not subsequently waived or overcome. Adjudicating consular officers may request an in-person interview if additional information is required from applicants.
Applicants renewing any visa within 48 months of expiration also continue to be eligible for an interview waiver.
Drop Box Appointments
Consular sections across India are now accepting drop box applications for renewals of H, L, C1/D, O, I, F, M, and J visas at our Visa Application Centers. One may visit the consular website to determine whether you are eligible for dropbox processing and schedule an appointment for document drop-off. A list of drop-off locations is available on the website.
How to Request an Expedited Appointment
Applicants can request an expedited appointment through the online appointment system at https://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/en/expedited-appointment. You must already have a confirmed interview appointment date in order to request an expedited appointment. If your expedited appointment request is approved, you will be notified with instructions via email. You should not cancel your existing appointment unless you receive a confirmation that your request for an expedited appointment has been approved. If you have not yet received an approval or denial, your request is still under consideration.