Changes to the NIV Appointments in India to Prevent Misuse by Certain Agents25 Jul 2022
There has been a shortage of nonimmigrant visa (NIV) appointments at the U.S. consulates in India throughout the ongoing pandemic. This problem has been exacerbated by certain agents who have been booking visa appointments in bulk, and then charging visa applicants for these scarce appointment slots. In response, the U.S. consulates have taken steps to mitigate the negative impact such agents are having on visa appointment availability.
Background on U.S. Visa Applications in India
The demand for U.S. visas in India is currently higher than it was prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent spike in the number of U.S. visa applicants in India could be attributable to the status of the Indian economy and the pent-up demand.
During a recent Facebook Live discussion, the Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs in India, Mr. Don Heflin, raised concerns regarding agents misusing the U.S. visa appointment scheduling system in India. Mr. Heflin indicated that many agents had been booking visa appointment dates in bulk, to then sell them to those seeking visa appointment slots. Not only was this unfair to visa applicants, but the appointment slots the agents were unable to sell went unused.
Steps Taken by the U.S. Embassy in India to Prevent Such Misuse
In recent months, the U.S. consulates have introduced a few measures to combat the abuse of the scheduling system for nonimmigrant visa applicants. For instance, the system now includes a CAPTCHA test to prevent agents from using bots to grab available visa appointment slots. The U.S. consulates in India have also stopped announcing the specific dates that new appointment slots will be made available. Further, in response to user complaints, the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai has requested that any individual with information about U.S. visa fraud or consular fraud of any kind, should report the fraud to the consulate via eMail.
Visa applicants should log into their respective profiles on the CGI Federal website on a regular basis to monitor the availability of NIV appointments.
These measures introduced by the U.S. Embassy in India should help reduce unfair manipulation of the online visa appointment scheduling system. This should lead to greater availability of visa appointments and shorter wait times for U.S. visas.
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