In a series of announcements and clarifications meant for Indian F-1 and other student visa applicants, the US Consulate in India has addressed key issues and concerns for those applying to US universities and colleges in the coming weeks.
The US Embassy under its Mission India scheme issued a record 62,000 student visas last year and expects to see even more student applicants this year. There will be more slots for first-time student visa applicants, the appointments for which are likely to open mid-May for interviews starting June. It is also seeking feedback from student applicants on how their preferred course of study appeals to them.
- The US Embassy under its Mission India scheme issued a record 62,000 student visas last year.
- There will be more slots for first-time student visa applicants, the appointments for which are likely to open mid-May for interviews starting June.
- The Embassies and Consulates will seek feedback from applicants on this and expect you to give a logical and personalized explanation.
What Students Can Expect
Earlier, only travellers who wanted to renew a visa that has expired in the last 48 months for the same purpose of travel could use the Expanded Interview Waiver or Dropbox option. Now, this has been extended to student applicants too. According to Don Heflin, Minister Counsellor for Consular Affairs, at the US Consulate, “We have made significant progress in dealing with the backlog of applications. In 2022, we expect processing about 800,000 visa applications, including student visas. Comparing this to the 1.2 million in pre-COVID years, it means we are doing about two-third of the work we normally do with about 50% normal staffing.”
In 2023, the Embassy is hoping to get close to 100% of the number of visas across different categories that it used to do. Visa appointments have opened across India from April 2022. “This year, we hope to interview more than we did last year. We had a really good crop of students who did a good job in their interviews. We issued 62,000 student visas last year and will be more than happy to do that again this year. The embassies and US Consulates are expected to function normally by mid to end 2023, depending on the COVID-19 situation,” he adds.
Many students whose visa applications have been rejected earlier after they were interviewed are hopeful that they will get an opportunity to apply again. “We are making a policy change as we want this summer to look like the previous one. We had a really good group of students after the Delta wave of COVID-19 until mid-June. We can’t wait until June this year. Last year, no one got the chance for two interviews. By June 14, all the appointments were taken up. We had a really high issuance rate with people doing a good job in their interviews. Students must understand that their best chance is always in the first interview,” says Hoflin.
More About Interviews
As per insights from the Embassy, the refusal rate for people going for their second or third interview goes up. “We want to give a fair chance to genuine and first-time applicants who want to pursue a higher education degree in a US university and the best way to do it is to block out people with a second chance,” says Hoflin.
Hence, students must remember that their first interview is their best chance as a vast majority of students last year did well in their first interview. Another common question is whether an F-1 visa applicant’s interview will be waived if he/she already has a B-2 visa. If you are a student in the US right now or if you have a B visa before, you can go online and ask for a dropbox slot for your F visa this summer. In Chennai, these appointments are open mid-June and in Delhi they will open sooner than that.
Mostly, it’s all about you explaining in your interview why a particular university and course makes sense to you. The Embassies and Consulates will seek feedback from applicants on this and expect you to give a logical and personalized explanation rather than reciting something from memory about the campus, the course, the student body or other highlights of a university that appeal to you. Students are one category of visitors we are looking to prioritize in the coming months. Visa slots for students will open on June 1. The appointments will also open up for the M and J categories by the same date.