India-Based U.S. Consulates Currently Experiencing Visa Appointment Backlogs
Visa Appointments in India
As any Indian traveling back to India for “stamping” of an L-1, L-2, O-1, H-3, H-1B, or H-4 visa in their passport knows, the wait for obtaining a Consular appointment can affect their eligibility for the visa itself, not to mention their work and travel plans. In recent months, appointment wait times have steadily risen, and U.S. consulates in India are now backlogged with wait times of 70-130 days to obtain an appointment in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai.
The reason for the increase in wait times appears to be two-fold; an increase in overall demand, and the effect of “summer transfer season”. (The months of May-September of each year are the Consulates’ busy “summer transfer season” wherein new consular officers come on board and train, while experienced officers end their tours in India and transfer out).
Appointment wait times for individuals applying for B-1/B-2 visitor visas and F-1 student visas are approximately 1-3 weeks.
What the Appointment Backlog Means for You
The extended wait times mean that Indians in employment-based categories and their employers—as well as end-clients and vendors, if applicable—may face delays in the commencement of employment. Indians applying for Fiscal Year 2017 H-1B Cap employment may need to be prepared to start later than the October 1st start date indicated on their I-797 Notice of Action, although time spent outside of the U.S. does not count towards the 6 years allotted in H-1B status.
To save time, Third County National (TCN) processing at a third country may be possible, if the U.S. consulate in the third country agrees to adjudicate the nonimmigrant visa. Individuals considering applying at a third country consulate should ensure that processing there is possible before departing the U.S. and that they have the proper visa to travel to the third country.