US Visa Processing & Appointment Wait Times to Increase for Indians – US Embassy

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The United States of America has lifted travel restrictions on fully vaccinated travelers from India to the US on November 8th 2021. This would mean that pending visa applications to travel to the USA will finally move along but it also means that visa applicants seeking to travel to the USA will face longer processing times & appointment wait times. The US Embassy located in India said there would be significantly longer wait times for some non-immigrant visa categories. After nearly 18 months, the USA has decided to lift travel restrictions to fully-vaccinated travelers from other countries.

During the pandemic, only US citizens and immigrant visa holders were allowed to travel in & out of the USA except for emergency cases while following strict Covid-19 safety protocols. This trend of longer wait times for visa processing once countries open their gates to travelers from other countries. Since the USA lifted the travel ban on 8th November, approximately 30 lakh Indian citizens with valid US visas will be able to travel to the USA with proof of vaccination under the new international air travel policy.

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The US Embassy emphasizes that the new international air travel policy is to facilitate legitimate travel to boost the growth of bilateral ties between the 2 countries. Appointment wait times are slated to increase as the US State Department is on the bounce back from interruptions caused due to Covid-19, especially for non-immigrant visa categories as they seek to improve the number of staff & keep safety as the priority for applicants.

Foreign national air travelers must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and travelers must provide proof of vaccination status before boarding their flights to fly to the USA. The US Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has determined that the vaccines accepted for purpose of entry into the USA will include those approved by the FDA or authorized by FDA along with vaccines listed under Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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Both vaccines being manufactured in India – Covishield & COVAXIN which have been the 2 most widely used vaccines in India are on the WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL). This means any US visa holder who has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by either the Covishield or COVAXIN vaccines can travel to the USA. While Covishield had secured EUL from WHO long ago, COVAXIN was only recently added to the WHO EUL on the eve of Diwali. The CDC considers people as fully vaccinated 2 weeks after they have been administered the 2nd dose in a 2-dose vaccine series or 2 weeks after being administered a single-dose vaccine.

Travelers to the USA will need to provide proof of documentation of a pre-departure negative viral test of a sample collected within 72 hours before boarding to travel to the US – this applies to all travelers and includes US Citizens, Permanent Residents & Foreign Nationals according to the CDC and the US Embassy.

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