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US mission in India to roll out large number of student visa appointments

A large number of student visa appointments will be rolled out in the ensuing months starting next week with more Dropbox appointments for students currently in the US, according to a senior US embassy official.

To increase capacity, Mission India is recruiting more officers in addition to training existing staff members, Don Heflin, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy in New Delhi stated on Instagram and Facebook on May 11.

The mission recently added five more visa officers at the Mumbai consulate. They expect to achieve 2/3rd of their pre-Covid capacity for visa processing this year and hope to reach 100% of this by the end of 2023, he said.

Heflin said that they had issued a record 62,000 student visas last year and expected to break that record this year. In fact, they expect to issue more student (F, M and Js including dependents) visas than ever before.

Between August 15 and September, 1 they will open up 15,000 slots for students with past refusals. Students who receive their I-20s later than expected could also avail of these appointments.
A visa can be issued only within 120 days before a student’s course start day. One could apply before that, but the case will be kept pending under 221(g) and the applicant will be asked to send in the passport at a later date.

Applicants who get 221(g) notices must take the action required in the notice without any delay. This helps the officers quickly make decisions.

Dropbox applications are generally processed within seven days after the Dropbox appointment.
Even if the education institute has waived any test, it would be best to take it as a good score would be an advantage in the interview.

Parents who have visas or are eligible for a Dropbox appointment could travel to the US with their student children, Heflin said.

Appointments for first time B-2 visa applicants or for those who do not qualify for Dropbox (new applicants) appointments may avail of appointments that will be added to the system in late August or early September.

The US mission will release a large number of appointments from this period through Spring 2023 for new visa applicants.

Heflin advised applicants to check for visa appointments multiple times a day but warned that if you “refresh” the portal frequently you may be locked out of the system for 72 hours.

Applicants are also advised to be prepared to “tell their story” during the visa interview, which should be similar to an elevator pitch as visa interviews usually last for a couple of minutes or so.
Applicants should be able to convey to the officer why a particular course, or level of education makes sense to the applicant’s career goal.

Heflin also advised students to be ready to explain how the intended education fits in with their life. This becomes more important when an applicant is changing academic tracks or pursuing a second degree at the same level of an existing one.

Applicants should carry all their financial documents to the interview but officers at Mission India generally do not focus on ability to pay for the course as Indian parents almost always find ways to pay for the education and stay.

Third country nationals may apply in India, but it is best to apply in the country where one resides, the official said. (Source: The American Bazaar)


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