First-time applicants will be prioritized for visa interview slots this year: US Embassy official

First-time applicants to receive priority US visa interview

Guidelines revised by the US embassy in visa issuance is affecting some Indian students. It caused concern when word came in April’s first week that second and third-time applications for interview of student visas would no longer be considered. Donald L Heflin, Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy in Delhi, issued some clarification regarding the same.

First-time F1 visa applicants from India will be prioritized over second or third time applicants during the slot booking process for visa interview, Heflin reaffirmed in a 30-minute live video chat on the US Embassies official page of the Consulate General Chennai. He said that most visa aspirants are able to clear the interview in the first attempt and should give their best and not wait for a second or third chance.

“What is really going on with this policy change is that we would rather give all the fresh applicants, who are turning up for the first time for a visa interview to study in a US college, a chance. The best way to do that is to block out the people refused a student visa before,” he explained.

“This year we will open visa interviews earlier in the mid of May and hope to issue even more student visas than the last year’s figure of 62000, which was more than ever before” He added.

Last year when there was Covid Delta variant prevalent, the US Embassy started their Visa application procedure late in June, as many of the students had already received their I-20 documents from the universities in the US.

He also stated that in 2021, application system websites crashed due to massive traffic of applicants from India, which necessitated this guideline for the smooth processing of applications.

Students who have applied earlier, twice or more, and got the refusal are more likely not going to get an interview slot this year.

Furthermore, he expects the application process to bounce back into the pre-covid era from next year. The embassy is looking forward to issuing around 80,000 visas in different categories by the mid of 2023.

Lastly, he also emphasized that by  September 1, 2022, slots for various categories of visa, including but not limited to H and L, B-1, and B-2, for the first time applicants are going to open.

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