New Applicants Get Priority for US Visa Interviews

Visa issuance guidelines revised by the US Embassy are affecting some Indian students. It caused concern when, in the first week of April, word came that second and third applications for interview for student visas would no longer be considered. Donald L Heflin, Secretary of State for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy in Delhi, has provided some clarification.

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

“What’s really going on with this policy change is that we’d rather give a chance to all new applicants who are showing up for a visa interview to study at a US university for the first time. The best way to do that is by block the people who have previously refused student visas,” he explained.

“This year we will open visa interviews earlier, in mid-May, and hope to issue even more student visas than last year’s figure of 62,000, which was more than ever before,” he added.

Last year, when Covid Delta variant reigned, the US embassy started their visa application process in late 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 the application system websites crashed due to massive traffic of applicants from India making this directive necessary for smooth processing of applications.

Students who have previously applied twice or more and received the refusal are unlikely to be interviewed this year.

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

Finally, he also emphasized that by September 1, 2022, slots for various visa categories, including but not limited to H and L, B-1 and B-2, will be opened for the first time.

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