If you are a student considering the US as your destination for higher education, this news will make the beginning of your journey easier.
There is faster processing of student visa applications and waiving of in-person interview requirements for certain applicants in many non-immigrant visa categories by the US Department of State, which has authorised the consular offices to do so through December 31, 2022.
These developments indicate that things are gradually going back to the pre-pandemic levels.
With several Indian students having to wait for months to get their visas as the US embassies across the country were closed or had delayed the scheduled appointments, which left students worried. While in-person interviews and visits were not possible due to the COVID-19 restrictions for nearly two years, lack of virtual alternatives made it more difficult for students and the authorities.
- The US waived visa interviews for students with F, M, and academic J visas
- However, the applicants need to have previously been issued any category of US visa to be eligible for waiver
- Statistics show that there has been an increase of over 300% in the visa issuances from India, particularly under the F1 Visa category, from October 2021 (2,568) to December 2021 (11,142)
- As per data from the US Department of State, nearly 43% of embassies are now offering a visa interview within a fortnight, an increase from 16% in March 2021
Those who will qualify for the waiver of in-person interviews, include students under the F, M, and academic J visas, workers (H-1, H-2, H-3, and individual L visas), and those with culture and extraordinary ability (O, P, and Q visas).
However, to be eligible for this, applicants need to have previously been issued any category of US visa; must not have been refused a US visa before and should not be ineligible or potentially ineligible for the visa.
US Makes Visa Processing Faster
The US Embassy and Indian Consulates are now witnessing an increase in the visa appointment demand across categories, meaning the waiting time may be longer for most routine non-immigrant visa appointments at the embassy in New Delhi and the consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai.
The authorities are making efforts to make the process faster. As per the US Department of State, despite the extensive wait times over a period of nine months, things are moving in a positive direction for international applicants aspiring to study in the US.
Data from the US Department of State suggests nearly 43% of embassies are now offering a visa interview within a fortnight, an increase from 16% in March 2021. This is not just due to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, but also recent policy amendments.
This means that the US government is keen to have international students back on its campuses. Statistics show that there has been an increase of over 300% in the visa issuances from India, particularly under the F1 category, from October 2021 (2,568) to December 2021 (11,142).
Why Indian Students Are Important
About 18% of all international students in the US are Indians, which makes India an important target market for them.
As per the US Department of State, international students added more than $39 billion to the US economy in 2020 and took up over 400,000 jobs.
Foreign students add a lot of value to universities in US and society by bringing in diversity and inclusivity. This is in addition to the several opportunities and initiatives that they are involved in for science, technology, business and innovation.
The country is hopeful of getting more students from India after they dropped to 193,00 from 200,000 in 2019-2020.