U.S. officials said this week that the U.S. embassy and consulates in India are scheduling appointments for all visa categories but that wait times remain significantly delayed.

In a press conference with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the State Department is “surging resources” to address a visa backlog that developed because of COVID-related staffing and funding issues.

“We have a plan when it comes to India to address the backlog of visas that’s built up,” Blinken said, according to a State Department transcript. “I think you’ll see that play out in the coming months, but it’s something that we’re very focused on.”

Key Points:

  • The U.S. embassy and consulates in India are booking interview appointments for all visas categories; however, most categories are significantly delayed. The visa appointment wait time for a nonimmigrant visitor visa in New Delhi, for example, is 833 days.
  • U.S. consular officials in India and other countries remain authorized to waive in-person interviews for some visa applicants through Dec. 31, 2022.
  • The U.S. Embassy in India will host an online discussion with Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs Don Heflin to discuss visa and other issues this Thursday, Sept. 29, at 3 p.m. India Standard Time.

Background: Delays have plagued U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. State Department officials have said that visa processing times are improving but that progress varies from post to post.

BAL Analysis: In his remarks this week, Secretary Blinken said he is “extremely sensitive” to visa issues and said officials would remain “very focused” on reducing the backlog. For now, appointment and processing delays should be expected at embassies and consulates in India. Service levels and processing times at posts around the world vary. BAL will continue to monitor efforts to address the delays and will provide information as it becomes available. Employers and employees should continue to consult their BAL professional before planning international travel.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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