GLF has prepared the following draft referencing content in AILA8 (Doc. No. 22101707) dated November 03, 2022.

Here are some of the important and much needed updates from Department of State:

Applicants and Attorneys were not allowed to make any changes to the submitted DS-160 application. DOS recently provided efficient ways to reuse the information from a previously submitted application and accordingly submit a new/updated DS-160 application.

  • If the previously submitted DS-160 was used to book the visa appointment and to make the MRV fee payment, applicants are required to present both the new and original DS-160 at the time of their Visa interview. Each DS-160 owns a unique barcode and the consular officer uses it to retrieve the application.
  • In instances were applicants used old versions of the DS-160 to make the MRV fee payment but ensures to carry the revised DS-160 for their Visa Interviews are advised to notify the consular staff upon arrival.

It is essential to carry the printout of both versions of the DS-160 to the Visa interview, in case the officer cannot retrieve or access the application due to system outage.

U.S. companies are currently facing challenges in obtaining B-1 Visas for bringing resources to the US for attending any business meetings, negotiations, events, conferences, etc.  For any urgent Business travel needs, Attorneys and B-1 Sponsoring Organizations are advised to seek prior guidance from the respective consular post’s website.

In general DOS advises applicants to make an appointment for the first date available.  Once done, the applicants are advised to submit a request for an Expedited Appointment through the online scheduling system.  Applicants are advised to sufficiently demonstrate their business need for an earlier appointment date.  Process for requesting for an expedited appointment varies from one US Consulate to another.

Visa Appointment Wait Times page on State Department Website will now include the Interview Waiver cases of B-1/ B-2 Visitors, F-1 students and Petition based temporary H/L workers as well.

Given the backlogs and uncertainty with regards to Appointment availability, applicants are advised to get in the line by submitting their DS-160 application, create their profile in the CGI portal, make the required visa fee, and schedule the first available Interview appointment.

US Mission to India has increased about 100,000+ appointments for H and L visas workers.  H and L visa applicants will continue to remain on the priority list of Visas to be issued in the next 6 months. Waiting period for both Visa interview and interview waiver appointments will now be reduced to half.

Interview Waiver Program (IWP) was brought to tackle huge case backlogs and to efficiently manage visa stamping and deliverance.  DOS will continue extending the IWP service till the end of 2023. In few instances the ineligible applicants were made eligible for Interview waiver due to technical issues in the Appointment Scheduling Systems.  In such cases the applicants were contacted, their passport were returned and were asked to appear for In-person Interview. Applicants are advised to contact their relevant post even before scheduling their Appointments to avoid any delays.

DOS is providing means and ways in which Non-immigrant visa applicants and students are allowed to obtain a Visa appointment where they are physically present. This will reduce administrative burden on posts and will provide better visibility on Visa Appointments and TCN.  DOS have made many technological improvements to address the current backlogs and to reduce the waiting times. 

DOS is also exploring the possibility of Virtual interviews by applying technological innovations to its existing processes.  However Immigrant visa applicants are required to appear before a consular officer to biometrically execute their applications and take an oath.  And the Non- Immigrant Visa applicants are also expected to provide their fingerprints.

E-2/ B-2 Visa Applicants with dual Citizenship are receiving Visas with short term validity. While issuing Visa for such applicants, reciprocity schedule attached to the passport which they are applying for Visa has to be relied upon.  Rather there has been multiple instances where the Consulates have issued visa as per the reciprocity schedule attached to the 2nd nationality, which was not submitted in the Visa application.

To address the issues, consular officers have decided to determine the validity period based on prescribed reciprocity and number of applicants for admission. In cases where there are no issues relating to Dual Nationality, consular officers are instructed to issue non-immigrant visas for the maximum validity allowed.

Non- Immigrant Visa applicants were issued 214(b) denial across US Consulates solely based on their pending I-130 Immigrant Visa petition (spouse/child of US citizen) or pending DV Lottery application. To enter the country, they were given the following options:

  • Applicants were told to wait for Immigrant visa issuance to enter the U.S or
  • Applicants were advised to establish their eligibility for the visa category and overcome the presumption of Immigrant intent

If they could not establish their eligibility for the visa category, 214(b) denials were issued.

Consular sections have refused visa under 212(a)(6)(C)(I) for IV or NIV applicants without any factual basis on basis of Fraud. If made ineligible and refused a visa in the context of future visa applications, applicants may ask questions about their case during the interview.  If there are any question on the interpretation or application of Immigration Law to a pending or recently refused application, applicants can and seek information.

At GLF, we will continue to follow further developments in the above discussed and other matters, while we provide updates through our Newsletter as and when they become available. GLF receives numerous emails and phone calls every day seeking comments on various proposed bills and media reports that are often inaccurate. It is our job to separate fact from fiction and advice clients on important and relevant updates. The best way to receive accurate information is through GLF Newsletters.

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