The United States government has announced plans to start processing student visa applications for the upcoming fall session, with the first batch of visa appointments expected to be available in mid-May.
This comes on the heels of US Consul General in Mumbai Mike Hankey’s recent announcement that the US intends to increase visa interview appointments for Indian students by 30% this summer. In 2022, nearly 125,000 student visa applications were processed by US consulates in India.
The US government also extended the visa waiver program for in-person interviews until December 31, 2023, an extension available to a limited number of students, professors, research associates, specialists, and others. The US State Department emphasized that consular officers may still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis, depending on the circumstances.
Under the waiver program, consular officers can waive visa interview requirements for some first-time and renewing F, M, and academic J applicants who have never been refused a visa (unless the refusal was overcome or waived) and show no signs of ineligibility or potential ineligibility.
First-time F, M, and academic J applicants who are citizens or nationals of a country participating in the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) may also be exempt from in-person interviews if they have no obvious or potential ineligibility and have previously visited the US with a permit obtained through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
Sanjay Laul, Founder and Advisor of education management company M Square Media (MSM), lauded this recent development. “The decision to increase visa interview appointments for Indian students demonstrates the US’s commitment to address roadblocks and figures as an important step in promoting international education and fostering strong ties between the two countries,” Laul shared.
“The extension of the visa waiver scheme for in-person interviews, for example, will simplify the application process for many students, professors, and researchers. This will not only help attract more Indian students to the US, but it will also strengthen academic collaborations among institutions in those two nations.”
The increase in visa interview appointments, as well as the extension of the visa waiver scheme for in-person interviews, are expected to benefit Indian students seeking to study in the US, helping them stick to their personal timelines for studying abroad and focus on preparing for the journey ahead.
Increased academic collaborations are also on the horizon, resulting in the exchange of knowledge, resources, and best practices and thereby improving the quality of education provided by institutions in both countries.
Source: M Square Media