With tens of thousands waiting in line for US visas, many hopefuls were left wondering about its usefulness
Late last month, The US State Department made an important change in its visa interview program to ease the process of visa stamping for many categories of non-immigrant visa holders provided they meet certain conditions.
The measure also gives immediate relief to several visa holders based in the US who needed visa stamping and had been delaying their trips to India for fear of not getting a stamping date.
While the move came as a relief for many who had been spending sleepless nights trying to book that elusive visa appointment spot, the recent announcement about the number of drop box appointments has left many hopefuls wondering about the usefulness of the step in the first place.
Read: Everything you need to know about US visa interview waiver (December 24, 2021)
The new notice from the Department says, “In the coming days, the US Embassy and Consulates in India will release more than 20,000 additional interview waiver (drop box) appointments for Spring 2022 to allow qualified applicants to make use of the new interview waiver authority.”
It adds, “Due to reduced staffing and numerous pandemic related disruptions to out operations since March 2020, appointment demand is high across all visa categories and wait times may be lengthy for most routine non-immigrant visa appointments at the US Embassy in New Delhi and the consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.”
The news of only 20,000 drop box appointments was greeted with concern in the immigration circles whether the measure would really help the current demand for visa appointments.
Memphis based Immigration attorney Elissa Taub says, “US Embassy in India says it will make 20,000 drop box appts available this Spring. This is insane and speeds up nothing.”
“The US Embassy in India is trading one type of appointment for another:” she said. “We have clients who need to travel & can’t wait until April or May to get their visas stamped. Waiving the interviews made it sound like folks could be processed more quickly. But it’s all smoke and mirrors.”
Read: US waives in-person interviews for H-1B, student visas through 2022 (December 24, 2021)
Many work visa holders living in and working in the US expressed disappointment at the measure. Aaksh Singh says, “The right measure would be to open a visa processing unit in the United States.
“This would cancel the unnecessary step of people with approved petitions going out of the country. If the passports can be sent within the US for stamping it will ease the process for both parties.”