United States: Update on Visa Appointment Backlogs at U.S. Consulates in India
Visa appointment backlogs at U.S. consular posts in India have further increased in the last several days. Foreign nationals who need to apply for an H or L visa in India currently face visa appointment wait times of 75 to more than 125 days at the U.S. consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi. The appointment backlog is likely to delay U.S. employment start dates and reentry to the United States, unless applicants are able to secure a visa appointment at another consulate. Backlogs are likely to increase as the October 1 start date for FY 2017 H-1B cap employment nears.
U.S. consulates in India continue to experience significant backlogs in nonimmigrant visa appointments for H, L and other employment-based nonimmigrant visas. Foreign nationals seeking a nonimmigrant visa are facing wait times of 75 to more than 125 days to secure an appointment in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi. Appointment wait times for B-1/B-2 visitor visas and F-1 student visas are four to 22 days.
Demand for U.S. visas has increased over the last several months, but there has been no increase in consular staff at the U.S. mission to India, leading to the current backlog.
A lternatives for Visa Applicants Affected By the Backlogs
If you are an Indian national with an imminent need to obtain an employment-based nonimmigrant visa, you and your dependents may be able to apply at a U.S. consulate outside India as third-country nationals (TCNs). However, there are additional travel costs associated with this option, and you may also need to obtain a foreign visa to visit the third country.
Applying at the U.S. consulate in Kolkata, which previously had an appointment backlog of just 13 days, is no longer an option for imminent travel ; wait times have increased to 126 days since August 22.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
The lengthy backlogs mean that Indian employment-based nonimmigrant visa applicants are likely to face delays in beginning their U.S. employment. Indian H, L and other employment-based nonimmigrants already in the United States may face delays in international travel and reentry. The backlogs are likely to increase as the October 1 start date for FY 2017 H-1B cap employment nears.
This alert is for informational purposes only. If you are an Indian national with a need to obtain a U.S. employment-based nonimmigrant visa, please contact your Fragomen professional as soon as possible to discuss options.