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Learn what Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, Don Heflin has to say on students’ U.S. visa processing

US Embassy’s Session for Student Visa Applicants Provides Clarity on Processing & Delays

May 11, 2022, was an enlightening day for Indian students aspiring to study in the United States. On this day, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, Don Heflin, hosted a live session at the US Embassy in New Delhi. He discussed the current operating status and visa processing at consular sections across India. He also took questions from the live audience and offered clarity on various areas related to student visa processing. This page contains a summary of key highlights of the session shared with the audience.

Hoping to get more student visa applications in 2022, the United States is making special arrangements for students wanting to study in the US ahead of the intake season. The Minister Counselor confirmed that the US has granted 62,000 student permits in 2021 and intends to surpass this number in 2022. Moreover, the embassy plans to issue more student visas, including dependent ones such as F, M, and J.

The counselor also talked about visa processing delays and how it impacts many aspiring students. He said that students seeking to study abroad or immigrate must usually expect longer processing times for study visa immigration processing. Delays in visa processing submit applications much earlier than the scheduled time.

It is suggested that the pandemic drives the visa processing delays in the US and the immigrant visa bans implemented by the Trump administration. The State Department is also experiencing a shortage of qualified staff and fund issues over recent years.

To enhance visa processing capacity, Mission India is working towards hiring more officers and providing training to existing staff members. Recently, the mission appointed five visa officers at the Mumbai consulate. The consulate expects to process 2/3rd visas in 2022 and plans to reach the 100% target by 2023.

US Mission in India will also open 15,000 slots for students who had been rejected in the past between August 15 and September 1, 2022. Students who have received their I-20s may also avail this opportunity.

The visa will be issued only 120 days before the start day of the course. For those who apply before the said days, their files will be kept pending for review and the applicant will be asked to send their passport later.

Parents with eligible visas or eligible Dropbox appointments can travel with their children.

B-2 visa applicants coming for the first or those ineligible for Dropbox (new applicants) appointments may avail of appointments that the consulate will add in late August or early September.

Besides, the US mission will open more slots and appointments for new visa applicants until spring 2023.

Key tips to remember

Students are advised to check on visa appointments every few hours but refrain from “refreshing” the portal as your account will be locked for 72 hours.

Applicants will be encouraged to “tell their story” during the visa interview, like an elevator pitch. Students must impact during the interview, and they have significantly less time. Student applicants must also convince the visa officer why they are opting for a specific course or how a certain level of education will help them have a fruitful career.

Helfin also told students to be prepared to explain how a specific course or education aligns with their professional aspirations. It becomes even more relevant when a student switches their academic profile or pursues a second degree.

Student visa applicants must carry all their financial documents at the interview and other supporting documents in favor of their application.

He also advised third-country nationals to apply from their country instead of India.

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