During a live Facebook chat, Donald L, Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy in Delhi, delivered several crucial updates on different types of non-immigrant visas.
During a 30-minute live discussion on the US consulate general in Chennai’s Facebook page, Heflin repeated that the first interview is the greatest opportunity for F-1 student visa applicants from India this year, with the odds of being denied a second or third interview slot being extremely high.
On April 6, the Times of India was the first to report on this crucial policy shift involving US student visas.
“I had stirred up a little controversy in the Times of India a couple of weeks ago on this. What is really going on with this policy change is that we would rather give all the fresh applicants, who are turning up for the first time for a visa interview to study in a US college, a chance. The best way to do that is to block out the people who refused a student visa before,” he explained.
Because of the Covid-Delta wave, last summer, the US embassy and consulates in India began student visa interviews late (June 14), with many students ready to fly having already obtained their I-20 paperwork from US colleges and waiting for interviews.
“We had a high issuance rate last year and a few got a chance for two interviews. This year, we will open student visa interviews earlier in mid-May and hope to issue even more student visas than the 62,000 issued last year, which was more than ever before,” Heflin explained.
Students who have been denied visas two, three, or more times, or who were denied in the Spring of this year and planned to apply again in the Summer, are unlikely to be interviewed this year.
“I am going to use cricket term. A lot of you guys are worried about getting bowled out before you even step on the crease. But a vast majority of students hit a six in the first interview which is your best chance of getting your visa. Don’t worry about whether you get a second chance or not,” Heflin said.
He also stated that visa interview and dropbox (categories exempt from interviews) slots for H and L visa categories will be available across India. Interview slots for B-1 and B-2 visiting visas for first-time applicants would begin on September 1 this year, he added. The US embassy plans to grant 80,000 visas in India over the following year across all categories, with the number of visas issued expected to return to pre-Covid levels by the middle of 2023, according to Heflin.
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