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Why can it take so long to get a nonimmigrant visa appointment abroad?

For fiscal year 2012 (October 1, 2011 – September 30, 2012) the Department of State issued in excess of 8.9 million nonimmigrant visas. A nonimmigrant visa appointment and interview is needed for most individuals seeking to obtain a nonimmigrant visa for entry to the U.S.  Nonimmigrant visas are issued to foreign citizens who visit the United States temporarily for activities such as business, work, tourism, or studying. There are over 20 categories of nonimmigrant visas. The purpose of intended travel as well as other factors will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law.  As shown below, locations in Latin America and China account for nearly 40% of all nonimmigrant visas issued.

Nonimmigrant visa appointments abroad

As part of the application process for many nonimmigrant visas, individuals must pay a visa fee, complete and electronically submit Form DS-160 and schedule and complete an interview with a U.S. consular officer. Once approved, the visa is placed in the applicant’s passport and allows the applicant to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry, such as an airport, and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection immigration officer to enter the U.S.  It is important to understand that the visa itself does not guarantee entry to the U.S.

Various factors can impact how long it takes to (1) schedule a visa appointment; and (2) actually get the visa after your interview.  These factors may include how busy a specific post is, the type of visa you are applying for, local conditions in the country in which you are attending your interview, how completely you complete your forms, the state of diplomatic relations between the two countries and how in-depth your knowledge is of the processes and procedures involved in obtaining a nonimmigrant visa to the U.S.

As with any bureaucracy, U.S. visa applications can be confusing.  Trying to set an appointment can be time consuming and frustrating and the DS-160 form can be “unstable” and “buggy,” though it is improving over time.  Berardi Immigration Law has a visa services department that can  take the stress out of this process by providing you with a total application package for one flat fee. Our visa representatives do everything from securing the best possible appointment to completing form.  In certain countries, we can even escort you to the interview.

If you need assistance in determining what type of visa is right for you, or in scheduling your nonimmigrant visa appointment abroad, contact our office for a consultation.