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New US visa appointment rules
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October 23, 2006

Tired of waiting for months for a US visa interview appointment? Here's some good news.

The prolonged wait for a visa may soon be a thing of the past, with US authorities looking to streamline application process for non-immigrant visas to America. Their goal: clearing visa applications in six days, instead of the two to six months it takes currently.

You may have many questions on how the new system works. So, we invited Richard Sherman, Deputy Consul General, New Delhi to chat with readers.

For those of you who missed the chat, here is the transcript:

Richard Sherman says, Good afternoon. I'm happy to join you today to discuss US visa policy and our efforts to make visa availability more universal for all applicants in India. We have taken a number of steps to greatly increase the availability of appointments, certainly over the next three months. We encourage all applicants who may have appointments in 2007 to actively consider moving their appointment to 2006. I look forward to your questions.

mohan11 asked, Sir is it true that the visa processing now gets completed within 6 days.

Richard Sherman, Visa processing, once you arrive for your interview, is, in 99 per cent of cases, completed at the time of the interview. You are either issued the visa or given a reason why we are unable to issue the visa. In a very few cases, we may need to do additional processing on the case, and for those you would be informed that there will be a delay while we complete the additional processing. What is new is that we are reducing the time period needed to obtain a visa appointment. Whereas in late September, prospective applicants were looking at appointments in February or March, appointments are now available across India within the next ten days.

paul asked, Sir, I want to apply for NIV to start my course on commercial pilots license..wat should be mychecklist to ensure that i get the course starts from 20th nov'06 and do throw some light on interview dates..thanks

Richard Sherman, In New Delhi and Chennai, there are appointments available as early as next week. If you already have an appointment further out and need to travel sooner, I encourage you to visit the VFS web site and reschedule your appointment.

Srinivas asked, what is 221(g)?

Richard Sherman, 221(g) is a section of the US Immigration and Nationality Act, which is used when we are unable to take immediate action on a visa case. For example, sometimes the applicant has failed to bring in the correct documentation, such as a student who applies without his I-20. In rare cases, when additional processing is required, the suspense category we use in that case is 221(g) while the additional processing takes place.

dinesh asked, Hello Sir, I was rejected visa twice. First time my business visa rejected due to some discrepancy in invitation letter sent from the client. Second time it was H1B. Did not know the reason as my H1B sponsor told that it has been rejected. Still not sure on that. Is there any specific criteria in issuing visa? Also I have visited to Saudi Arabia, Dahran once. Could it be a reason for rejection? Will I ever have chance for my visa process to get through?

Richard Sherman, During a web chat like this, we are unable to respond to individual cases such as yours. Please feel free to e-mail us at with your particulars and we will review and respond.

RSRANA asked, For Student F-1 Visa, after application after how many days called for Visa interview. Since my Son has applied for Spring 2007 Semester. Thank you,

Richard Sherman, First time student applicants may only apply for a visa within 90 days of their 'report by' date on the I-20. If you are within the 90 days, you may visit the VFS web site to schedule a visa appointment. That web site, as well as the US embassy web site, contains complete information on the documents and other requirements for applying for student and any other types of visas.

Ananymous asked, When is this new Visa processing program going to be implemented in chennai.

Richard Sherman, The new appointment availability system has been implemented country-wide, and Chennai as well as the other consulates, has appointments available within the next two weeks and for the rest of the year.

uswaraj asked, Dear sir, Good afternoon, sir i want to know that for visa to USA can i apply in kolkata. as i am residing in kolkata.

Richard Sherman, You may certainly apply in Kolkata at the US Consulate General there. Appointments are again available within five days. Visit the VFS website to schedule your appointment.

prisca asked, hi i m prisca what are the procedures of getting a visa . is it going to be a tough interview as i have heard from people that it is very difficult to get a visa

Richard Sherman, Please note that all applicants for visitor and student visas must demonstrate that they have a residence in India that they intend to return to at the end of their stay in the US. During the interview, you will be asked questions that will allow you the opportunity to demonstrate your ties to India and the reasons for your intended return. The large majority of all visa applicants in India receive their visa on the first try. Please keep in mind that a small segment of the Indian community is interested in getting to the United States by any means available to them, including misusing a US visa, and we have to keep this in mind when considering all applications. But again, we also realise that the vast majority of Indians are committed to their country, and fully intend to return.

ksanjeev1 asked, Hello Sir Can one attend job interviews on Buisness B1 visa trip to US.?

Richard Sherman, It is possible to attend job interviews while on a visitor visa, as long as you do not actually begin working without first obtaining the proper classification that permits work in the United States. No employment of any kind is permitted on a visitor visa, to include part-time work at a fast food restaurant, helping at your cousin's gas station, working with a temp agency, working at the local library, or any other similar money-earning activities.

Biraj asked, Dear Sir, What is VFS website? can you provide us the url??

Richard Sherman, Visit You can also get information about visas to the US at our web site.

Aashishag asked, Hello Sir, Are you considering some more cities to be added for getting visa stamping done?

Richard Sherman, As President Bush announced in March, we have now reached concurrence with the Government of India to open a new Consulate General in Hyderabad. Our goal is to have the consulate up and running during 2008 with a primary focus being providing visa services for citizens of Andhra Pradesh.

rotti asked, how do i apply for a H1 when i have a multiple entry B1/B2 visa

Richard Sherman, Applying for an H1 visa requires that the company in the United States who intends to hire you has filed and been approved a petition allowing you to work in the US.0 Once you have received notification of the approval of the petition for yourself, you may go online to VFS and schedule an appointment at your convenience.

Aditya asked, Dear Sir, My permenant residence is in Gujarat but i m working in Chennai. can I apply in Mumbai consulate for H1 visa interview?

Richard Sherman, We normally encourage all applicants to apply in the district where they are currently resident, so if your employment has shifted you to the Chennai district, and you expect to be there for some period of time, you should apply in Chennai. Appointments are currently available within one week.

sun asked, " US visas for indians in six days" does it mean that a indian software engineer who clears a job interview from US employer will get a VISA in six days flat??

Richard Sherman, The new policy assures that everyone will receive an interview in a very timely fashion. Nearly all applicants will have a decision at the time of interview. We, however, cannot guarantee that all applications are assured of processing within a fixed period of time such as six days. Currently, there are appointments available country-wide within the next ten working days.

gangaram asked, When an US Visa is issued for a period of 10 Years, is there any requirement to enter USA within six months of such issuance to keep the Visa valid for ten years?

Richard Sherman, There is no requirement for traveling to the US to maintain a visitor visa in valid status. You may be thinking of the situation for people who have green cards who do need to travel at least once a year to the US to maintain their status.

knkk asked, Is there any chance of a case of a visa rejected, being reviewed again? May I know the process? How long does it take for mails sent to to get a response? Don't you have huge mail there?

Richard Sherman, We encourage all applicants to be prepared to the maximum possible extent for their first interview. Further, the decision in the case will be based primarily on your oral answers during the interview and not so much on the papers that you might bring with you. However, if you are unsuccessful at your first interview, and you believe that you can present additional information that will demonstrate your intention to return to India, you are welcome to visit the VFS website to schedule a new appointment. We try to answer all emails within three working days. We do get a large volume of mail, but our staff is quite well trained in dealing with large volumes on a regular basis.

hareshrt asked, Good afternoon sir, I have heard that there are few countries blacklisted by US. If any person applying for visa has visited these countries, then he will be rejected. If yes, can u please provide the list of such countries..?

Richard Sherman, There are no countries that would cause an Indian citizen who has traveled occasionally to them to face difficulty when applying for a visa.

Next: Part II of transcript

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