The US embassy in India has changed the visa application system for students applying in the summer 2022 intake. The measures are expected to address the problem of non-student agents blocking the visa interview slots and the consequent shortage of interview appointments for “genuine students”.
The embassy is currently issuing two-thirds of the number of visas issued in the pre-pandemic times; it hopes to get back to full capacity by 2023.
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“Last year we faced two big problems; first because of the huge number of student visa applicants from India, our worldwide computer system crashed. Second, a large number of student visa interview slots were bought up by people who were not genuine applicants. Also, while in the first part of the season we had good and genuine students applying for visas, in the later part, last summer, many applicants who we interviewed were coming to us a second or third time having been refused student visas earlier. That was taking slots away from good students” said Donald L Heflin, Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy in Delhi.
“We hope to address both the problems of non-availability of interview slots for good and genuine students as well as the blocking of slots by non-student agents, who don’t show up for the interview, with these measures,” Heflin told TOI.
The embassy has also made software changes to ensure that aspirants who have been denied a visa in the summer-spring 2022 intake aren’t allowed to book more interview slots this year. Additionally, students have been advised to regularly check the US embassy website to schedule interview appointments upon receiving admission letters from US universities.
The embassy is also planning to start issuing B1-B2 visitor visas by September this year, allowing parents of Indian students to accompany their children as they start sessions in fall 2022. However, those who have never held a visitor visa before will not be allowed to travel.
The US embassy reopened visa interview slots in June 2021.