Travel Tip: Time to Schedule a Visa Appointment?

There are many variables that can impact the length of time it can take for an individual to obtain a visa for travel to the United States. This is particularly important to foreign nationals living abroad who want temporary U.S. entry, as well as to foreign nationals living in the U.S. in temporary statuses. One important factor in this equation is the length of time it takes to set visa appointments at the appropriate U.S. embassies and consulates.

Waiting Times at Embassies and Consulates

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has helpful information regarding visa appointments. The DOS WebSite has a dropdown menu of U.S. embassy and consular locations throughout the world. This allows individuals to estimate the amount of time they should expect to wait for visa appointments, depending upon visa type.

Wait Time Depends on Particular Visa Application

The information provided in the DOS WebSite includes separately-listed waiting times for visitors, students, and all other nonimmigrant visas (not including A, G, K, and V categories). There is a considerable variance in the waiting times between consulates and embassies, and, in some cases, between categories. There is also a posted estimate of the waiting time for processing the visa itself, if approved, following the appointment.

Other Considerations: Calendar Days versus Business Days

The waiting times for appointments are listed by calendar days; the timeframes for visa issuance are listed as business days. Calendar days include weekends and holidays. Business days include only working days. Thus, it is important to check for U.S. holidays as well as local holidays in the country where the embassy or consulate is located.

Arrests, IT Consulting Companies, Dual-Use Technologies: Expect Delays

The timeframes for appointments and visa issuance do not account for the possibility of delays or need for additional case processing. Such delays, in some instances, can extend for many months. When making travel plans, it is necessary to consider the possibility of inconveniences and interruptions due to visa delays.

For some, the consequences of visa delays may be severe enough to override the desire to travel. While such delays occur in many cases, particular identifiable factors are certain – or virtually certain – to result in long processing times. Among these are: prior arrests or convictions, IT consulting employment, and education and/or employment related to dual-use or sensitive technologies. Other common causes for delays are applicant histories that include immigration violations, as well as applications submitted by individuals with certain common names.

Review Form Carefully

Finally, there are some potentially avoidable delays in visa processing. These are caused by supplying information to the consulate that is incomplete or inaccurate. It is important to get clarification of any question on the visa form that is unclear.

Applicants should not guess or make assumptions about the meaning of a question. This is an area in which qualified legal advice can be very beneficial. It is also important to understand the documents that are needed in support of the visa application. Applicants should carefully follow all of the instructions, and seek assistance, if required. All assistance should be obtained from reputable sources. Problems often arise when applicants rely on individuals who market services as visa consultants. No application or document should be submitted before the applicant reviews it carefully for accuracy and completeness. Questions about visa applications and related matters can be directed to the Murthy Law Firm for clarification and guidance. Use the red Contact Us tab on the right side of any page of MurthyDotCom.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.