With tens of thousands of people lining up for U.S. visas, many hopes have questioned its usefulness.
Late last month, the U.S. Department of State made a significant change to its visa interview program to facilitate the visa stamping process for many categories of non-immigrant visa holders, to provided they meet certain conditions.
The measure also grants immediate relief to several US-based visa holders who needed visas and were delaying their trips to India for fear of not getting a date stamped.
While the move came as a relief to many who spent sleepless nights trying to book this venue for the elusive visa, the recent announcement regarding the number of appointments in drop boxes has left many many hopefuls wonder about the usefulness of the step in the first place.
Read: Everything you need to know about the U.S. visa interview waiver (December 24, 2021)
The ministry’s new notice reads: “In the coming days, the US Embassy and Consulates in India will post more than 20,000 additional interview waiver (drop box) appointments for spring 2022 in order to allow qualified applicants to use the new interview waiver authority. . “
He adds: “Due to staff reductions and the many pandemic-related disruptions in our operations since March 2020, appointment demand is high in all visa categories and wait times can be long for most routine appointments for nonimmigrant visas at the United States Embassy in New Delhi and consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.
The news of only 20,000 drop-box appointments has been met with concern in immigration circles as to whether the measure would really help the current demand for visa appointments.
Memphis-based immigration attorney Elissa Taub said, âThe US Embassy in India has said it will make 20,000 drop box applications available this spring. It is insane and does not accelerate anything.
âThe US Embassy in India is exchanging one type of appointment for another,â she said. âWe have clients who need to travel and cannot wait until April or May to get their visa stamped. Giving up interviews gave the impression that people could be treated more quickly. But all is smoke and mirrors.
Read: US waives face-to-face interviews for H-1B, student visas until 2022 (December 24, 2021)
Many work visa holders living and working in the United States have expressed disappointment with the move. Aaksh Singh says, âThe right measure would be to open a visa processing unit in the United States.
âIt would take the unnecessary step of people with approved petitions leaving the country. If passports can be sent to the United States for stamping, it will make the process easier for both parties. “
To read: American visa interview for some H1B, L1, H4, others – How does it work? (January 6, 2022)