UPDATE – July 2018
While waiting periods for U.S. Embassies have been reduced in the past year, they still require pre-planning for visa applicants prior to U.S. travel. As of April 2018, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi issued a statement recommending travelers to the U.S. to apply early for their U.S. visas due to heavy demand. Consulates across India continue to experience wait times of over 30 days with demand for U.S. travel visas increasing by over 60% in the last five years.
As of July 2018, the waiting periods for appointments for employment-based visas (such as H-1B and L-1, as well as H-4 and L-2 dependent visas) reported by the specific consulates in India are as follows:
- New Delhi: 35 calendar days
- Chennai: 23 calendar days
- Hyderabad: 45 calendar days
- Kolkata: 31 calendar days
- Mumbai: 49 calendar days
Under the U.S. Interview Waiver Program, certain repeat travelers to the U.S. may renew their visas without an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please see http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-visarenew.asp for more information. As immigration laws and its application can be confusing, we strongly suggest consultation with an immigration attorney before assuming your eligibility for the Interview Waiver Program.
Increase in Administrative Processing of Visa Applications
In recent months, we have seen an increase in visa applications subject to administrative processing, which can delay processing by several months. Visa applicants are advised to bring sufficient documentation regarding their U.S. employment with them to their visa appointment, including a complete copy of the nonimmigrant visa petition filed on their behalf, a letter verifying employment from their U.S. employer, recent pay stubs, and original educational documentation. Also, if there have been any changes to your position, including your job title, job duties, salary, and/or work location since the nonimmigrant visa petition was filed on your behalf, you should notify your HR department and/or immigration attorney at Ryan Swanson immediately. Visa applicants should also be prepared to answer questions regarding their U.S. employment and/or present documents regarding their employment by U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon reentry into the U.S.
Be Sure to Closely Monitor your I-94 Expiration
Upon entry into the United States, it is critical that all individuals working in the U.S. on a temporary visa visit www.cbp.gov/I94 immediately upon entry in order to check your I-94 to make sure that your status and expiration date are correct. The I-94 is also proof of your lawful status so you must print a paper version of the I-94 admission record and keep this with you at all times as evidence of your lawful status. To access your I-94, enter your name and other requested information as it appears on your passport and admission stamp. The website will generate an I-94 that contains your admission information and a unique admission number. You are responsible for looking up and printing your I-94 record each time you exit and return to the U.S. The I-94 record is your only evidence that you are in the U.S. legally, so it is important to keep a printout with your passport at all times.
Our immigration attorneys at Ryan Swanson advise all individuals working in the U.S. pursuant to a temporary visa to contact our office prior to any travel outside the U.S. if you have any questions regarding international travel or visa processing.
The U.S. Department of State is currently experiencing exceptionally long wait times, in excess of two or three months, for appointments to obtain a visa stamp at the five U.S. consular posts in India. As of August 2, 2016, the waiting periods for appointments for employment-based visas (such as H-1B and L-1, as well as H-4 and L-2 dependent visas) reported by the specific consulates in India are as follows:
- New Delhi: 142 calendar days
- Chennai: 101 calendar days
- Hyderabad: 109 calendar days
- Kolkata: 106 calendar days
- Mumbai: 81 calendar days
Book your visa appointment early! If you are planning to travel to India in the coming months or over the holidays, and will need a new visa in order to return to the U.S., you should be sure to schedule your visa appointment soon and take these processing times into account when planning your international travel. If you have already applied for and obtained an H-1B visa at a U.S. Consulate in India, you may be eligible for the Visa Interview Waiver “Drop Box” Program. You can check on your eligibility for the visa waiver “drop box” program at the following link: http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-visarenew.asp.
Applying for Visa in Mexico and Canada. If you are planning any international travel this summer or fall and will need a new visa in order to return to the U.S., you may be able to schedule a visa appointment at a U.S. Consulate in Canada or Mexico. U.S. consulates in Canada generally have very limited availability of visa appointments during the summer months for people who are not citizens or residents of Canada. Therefore, if you are considering applying for a visa in Canada, you should plan well in advance. The U.S. consulates in Mexico will accept appointments for people who are not residents or citizens of Mexico only if you are applying to renew a visa in the same category (e.g. H-1B) in which you have previously been issued a visa elsewhere. The consulates in Mexico will not accept appointments for individuals (other than citizens or residents of Mexico) who will be applying for H-1B visas for the first time.
Please note that if your visa application is subject to administrative processing, you would need to stay in Canada and wait for your application to be approved, which can take several weeks or months. Also, if you require a tourist visa to enter Canada, the processing of these visas can take around one month. If you have a currently valid U.S. visa, you may not be required to obtain a separate visa to enter Mexico as a tourist.
If you have any questions regarding international travel plans, visa processing, and the documentation you will need in order to reenter the U.S., please contact us with questions.
Amy can be reached at 206-654-2260 or [email protected]. Marsha can be reached at 206.654.2253 or [email protected]. Joel can be reached at 206.654.2215 or [email protected]. Janet can be reached at 206.654.2235 or [email protected]. Jen can be reached at 206.654.2250 or [email protected].
This message has been released by the Immigration Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC to advise of recent developments in the law. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances. Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC is a full-service law firm located in Seattle, Washington.