The excruciating wait for the US visa for Indians isn’t ending anytime soon. While a few applicants manage to reschedule their appointments, the long waiting period for a visa for business or personal reasons has left most people restless.
One such Ahmedabad resident, Hemang Haria, was hoping to visit the US this summer with family. “My daughter’s visa expired in December. We have been trying to get an appointment for her, but the earliest available date is in the second half of 2024. Our travel plans are stuck,” he said.
Aashna Aggrawal, an architect, applied for a visitor visa to the US in January 2020, and got a slot in April 2020. “Due to Covid-19, the slots were rendered invalid. The US immigration department said the visa fees would be valid for a year after. Despite repeatedly checking for a slot for a visa appointment, I still haven’t got one. My family and I plan to visit relatives in the US and the earliest appointment available is in 2024,” she said.
Earlier this year, the US mission in India launched a series of special Saturday interview days to process additional applications. Sources said this has already helped process 1,200-1,500 applications more every week. However, even this hasn’t changed the scenario appreciably.
Travel consultants said many are constantly monitoring slots and trying to reschedule appointments to reduce waiting time. “When new slots open, some do get lucky. This way, about 15% of US visa applicants have been able to get earlier appointments. However, people need to keep monitoring available slots. One can reschedule one’s appointment a maximum of three times,” said Ankit Bajaj, an Ahmedabad-based travel company owner.
Visa woes have not just hassled would-be tourists but also businessmen, as applications for business visas also have long waiting periods. Hiren Sakariya, director of international relations at an Ahmedabad-based consultancy, said, “Fresh applications for business visas are also not promptly entertained. Applicants are thus supposed to opt for the earliest available dates in 2024/2025 and then send an email to the embassy and consulates about the emergency based on which fresh slots are allotted. However, decisions are made on a case-to-case basis.”