Backlog pushes US Visa interview wait times to 18 months; Students, travellers face brunt

Foreign missions that had sent staff members home during the pandemic’s peak are yet to fully ramp up operations at their embassies, leading to delays.

Applicants waiting to interview for a US Visa in India has crossed 4 lakh. (File/IE)

A backlog of applications at the US Embassy has increased the waiting time for fresh applicants to an average of about one-and-a-half years. The longer wait time has come as a blow, especially for students seeking Visas to the US for higher studies. Even if they apply for student Visa now, the earliest they can get an appointment is March-April 2024.


According to the US State Department website, the average wait time for a Visa appointment at the US Consulate in New Delhi is 471 days for student Visas and 582 days for visitor Visas. In Mumbai, the average wait time is 517 days for a visitor Visa, but 10 days for a student Visa. The average wait time in Hyderabad for is 518 days for a visitor Visa and 479 days for a student Visa. In Kolkata, the average wait time for a visitor Visa is 587 days, but two days for a student Visa. Chennai’s average wait time is 513 days for a visitor Visa and eight days for a student visa.

According to a recent report, applicants waiting to interview for a US Visa in India has crossed 4 lakh. Similar delays are plaguing the likes of Canada, which has a backlog of over 20 lakh. There are also delays in securing appointments for Schengen Visas.

Similarly, Visa processing times in the UK have risen to four to 10 weeks, while Germany has stopped processing permanent stay Visas. In May, the Danish Embassy in India announced a temporary suspension of applications for residence permits and short-stay Visas before resuming it in July.

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The UK will resume the Priority Visa and Super Priority Visa services for new applications under its sponsored work routes and student Visa programmes, the British High Commission in India announced on August 12. It said in its statement on Twitter that it expected a high volume of applicants in the next few weeks and advised students to begin submitting applications as soon as possible.

On the same day, Alex Ellis, the UK High Commissioner to India, apologised for the delays in a video message on Twitter. “Most of you are getting visas to go to the UK within 15 working days, but there is a long tail of complex cases which are taking much longer,” he said.

Highlighting the reasons behind the delay, Ellis said: “First, because of the unprecedented surge in demand for UK visas post-Covid. Secondly, because of global events, particularly the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

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In an advice to applicants, he said: “Don’t commit to your air tickets until you have got your visa to be on the safe side. We want to see an unprecedented number of Indian students coming to the UK this year and we will do everything we can to make sure that you get your visa on time. But again, follow the guidance to the letter.”

A spokesperson for Visa facilitating agency VFS Global told “Despite an unprecedented surge in visa application volumes in India, VFS Global has maintained its standard turn-around-time of processing in one business day to send to respective embassies/consulates for decision-making. There could be an additional day due to the hub and spoke travel time required between cities, as and when applicable.”

“Decisions on visa applications, and the timelines to process them, are at the sole discretion of the respective embassies/consulates and may vary from one mission to another. The processing timelines are specified in some of the respective embassy/consulate websites, if not all.”


With the surge in travel demand post the surge in Omicron cases, visa applications from India have skyrocketed. Foreign missions that had sent staff members home during the pandemic’s peak are yet to fully ramp up operations at their embassies, leading to delays in Visa processing.

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Some countries have also tightened the Visa rules following the outbreak of Covid-19. The process now involves additional checks, including the verification of vaccination certificates.

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First published on: 18-08-2022 at 14:59 IST