US student visa applicants are in a predicament because the appointment wait time at the Hyderabad Consulate General has risen to over a year.
Though appointment wait times for other forms of US visas are decreasing dramatically, student visa wait times have increased from 37 days in November 2022 to 331 days presently.
Even for the visa category 'Interview Waiver Students/Exchange Visitors,' the wait time has increased from one to 64 days.
Reasons Behind Rise in Wait Time for the US Student Visa Appointments
There are three intakes in US universities: Fall (September intake), Winter (January intake), and Spring (May intake). Wait times have increased as students who received admission to US universities in the Winter and Spring intakes seek appointments for student visas at the Hyderabad Consulate.
Apart from this, the waiting time is also increased at other US consulates as well, for instance, the waiting period in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata has reached 104 days.
Measures Taken to Shorten Wait Times
Authorities have made more applicants eligible for interview waivers to cut US student visa appointment wait times. Aside from that, many cases are sent overseas for adjudication.
Addressing the growing concern over the backlog of visa applications from nations such as India, State Department spokeswoman Ned Price recently told reporters that he understands the concerns of individuals who must wait a long time.
According to Price, Visa processing is rebounding faster than expected, and they expect to return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming year. He also stated that it is the Secretary's and the Department's priority to do everything possible to minimise the backlog and, eventually, wait times.
Students are Compelled to Explore Alternative Options
Some students who were waiting for US visas have decided to relocate to other countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, and others. Students' decisions are influenced by both pull and push elements. The push element is long wait periods for US visa appointments. Some of the draw factors include short processing times for UK student visas, no work-hour restrictions in Australia, and so on.
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Source: The Siasat Daily