Increased Wait Times for H-1B and L-1 Visas at U.S. Consular Posts in India
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) reports that U.S. Consular Posts in India are currently experiencing extraordinary wait times for nonimmigrant visa (NIV) interview appointments. At the time of this writing, the current wait times for all NIV categories other than B, F, and J are:
- Chennai – 75 days
- Hyderabad – 93 days
- Kolkata – 96 days
- Mumbai – 88 days
- New Delhi – 100 days
In discussing this issue with the Department of State’s (DOS) Visa Office, the AILA DOS Liaison Committee has confirmed that the wait times are accurate and the current backlogs are likely to continue, if not worsen, during the busy summer months. DOS has reported that demand for visas to travel to the United States has increased by 80% in the past five years and that Mission India adjudicated more than one million visa applications during the last fiscal year alone. DOS is seeking approval from the Government of India to add consular positions to alleviate the increase in visa wait times. The Committee will continue to monitor the issue and communicate with the Visa Office and will provide members with the most current information possible.
In the interim, it may be wise to counsel Indian clients in the U.S. to defer any unnecessary travel to India until after the backlogs have subsided or, where travel is essential, to be prepared for lengthy delays in the scheduling of visa interviews. In addition, members should be mindful that:
- The Mission India visa appointment system provides a mechanism for requesting an expedited appointment. First priority goes to cases involving humanitarian issues (e.g., travel to receive an organ donation, to care for a seriously ill relative in the U.S., etc.). Business emergencies take second priority. In making a business expedite request, it is important to articulate why the need to travel is urgent, why advance planning was not possible, the impact if travel does not occur, etc.
- Mission India requires applicants for a petition-based visa to have already obtained USCIS approval of the underlying petition before requesting an interview.
- If an Indian national has reason to travel to another jurisdiction, applying outside of India as a Third Country National may be an option. Such applications are mostly likely to be successful in petition-based cases where INA §214(b) does not apply (i.e., H-1B and L-1).
Source: AILA Doc. No. 16061330.