Some of you would have scheduled US Visa interview appointments in India or your home country…With the unprecedented Coronavirus Situation US State Department continues to give news alerts on their website, twitter, emails, etc. on how to handle US Visa appointments and the current operation status of their services.
This page has all the updates since March 2020, when COVID started and Consulates were closed. We continue to update the below article with latest updates. It is divided into sections with summary, timeline for easy review. We will continue to update this page, you may bookmark this page.
Summary of all Updates from US Consulates in India as of Oct 23, 2020
Below is the short summary of all updates from US Consulates, Embassy in India from March 2020 until October 23, 2020. All the below are current and effective. You can check the timeline to get detail links and official sources, news screenshots in next section.
- US Consulates, Embassy in India are not yet open for regular operations.
- You can only apply for Emergency Appointment, if you have a need to apply for US Visa stamping in India
- US Visa Renewals using Dropbox is available for all visa types. Also, they changed the dropbox eligibility criteria to 24 months from expiry, instead of 12 months.
- For H1B, H4, L1, L2 stamping using Emergency appointment, you need to fall under one of the below two criteria.
- Need to qualify for exceptions as listed by State Department, or
- The company that H1B, L1 holder works for, should have been part of the lawsuit, where court gave an order to allow visa stampings for the affected companies. Also, in India, you can only apply for Emergency appointment only due to COVID situation. Talk to your company, if you are not sure.
- US Consulates are not processing previously issued 221g pending applications.
- Recently they updated that they are opening interview slots in Feb, March 2021 only for helping users to apply for Emergency Appointment and they will eventually cancel those visa appointment slots, even if you book them.
- US Consulates gave guidance to anyone traveling to India to be prepared for longer wait times to get their visa stamping done.
- US Consulates have extended the MRV fee payment validity until December 31st, 2021 to make sure all applicants get time to schedule visa appointment.
If you not done emergency appointment request in past, read Step by Step Guide to Apply for US Visa Emergency Appointment in India
Timeline, Official Links to Updates from US Consulates in India until Oct 23, 2020
Below is the timeline of updates from US Consulates and Embassy that is tracked regularly. You can check the official updates links from the consulate websites, twitter account below.
- October 22nd, 2020 : US Embassy of India gave clarification today indicating that they are opening interview slots in February and March 2021 only for requesting expedited appointments. Even, if you have the appointment on the file for March or Feb 2021, they will cancel all of them once the regular visa operations open and all users need to reschedule them. See below tweet from them.
The interviews currently open in February and March are only to allow for expedited appointment requests. Those interviews will be cancelled And applicants will need to reschedule once we resume regular processing.— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) October 22, 2020
- October 21st, 2020 : US Embassy of India update today stating that all Consulats and US Embassy remain closed for regular visa operations and applicants need to use Emergency Appointment request. Also, they state that the appointments are very much limited. See below tweet and screenshot of update as it appears on US Embassy India Website.
The US Embassy and Consulates across India remain closed for routine visa processing. If you have an urgent need to travel, you can request expedited appointment on our website. Appointments are very limited.— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) October 21, 2020
- October 20th, 2020 : US Embassy of India updated guidance to everyone stating that there will be longer wait times, even for emergency appointment requests. They suggest to be prepared to stay longer in India, if you happen to travel to US for visa stamping. See below guidance. See below tweet. The US Consulates and embassies continue to be closed for regular visa operations.
Please be advised, if you are planning to travel to India to renew your U.S. visa this fall or winter, you should plan for a longer stay in India. We anticipate significant appointment wait times — even for emergency appointment requests.— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) October 20, 2020
- October 14th, 2020 : After US Dept of State guidance, US Embassy in India gave additional guidance telling that they are aware of the Court Order, but they cannot accommodate all the request due to COVID-19 situation and they request anyone with urgent need to submit Emergency US Visa Appointment Request . They say they may not approve EA for everyone. This has nothing to do with court order, but their capacity with the COVID situation. See below update on their website. Also, the Consulate still closed and not open for regular operations. See below tweet.
Greetings! There is no set date for when regular visa operations will resume at U.S. Consulate General Mumbai including nonimmigrant visa cases refused under section 221g of the Immigration and Nationality Act. (1/2)— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) October 15, 2020
- October 5th, 2020 : US Consulates in India continue to be closed for regular operations or regular visa stampings. There is no set date for the opening of the general visa stamping. They have not given any guidance on the recent lawsuit court order regarding opening of H1B, L1, J1 visa stampings. There was only update from US Dept of State, but nothing US consulates in India. We continue to wait. See below tweet from US consulate Mumbai from today
Dear Yukti, there is no set date for when regular visa operations will resume at U.S. Consulate General Mumbai including nonimmigrant visa cases refused under section 221g of the Immigration and Nationality Act. (1/2)— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) October 5, 2020
- September 23rd, 2020 : US Embassy India their website with many important updates. Below are the same.
- Dropbox Open for all Visa Types : US Consulates and Embassy are accepting dropbox applications for renewals of all non-immigrant visa types. You can submit them at VACs all across India. If you are applying for H, L and J categories of Visas under dropbox, then you need to qualify for exceptions to Trump Travel Ban EO/Proclamation. General Visa appointments continued to be available for F1 students and they will be prioritised.
- Visa Fee Validity Extended until Dec 31-2021: As US consulates in India continue to be closed for regular operations, many are not able to attend interview and MRV fee receipt maybe close to expiry. US Embassy updated that they are extending the MRV fee payment validity until December 31st, 2021 to make sure all applicants get time to schedule visa appointment. If you do not find a slot or your visa interview slot was cancelled, there is no action you need to take. They will automatically extend the validity of MRV Fee receipt until end of this year.
- Immigrant Visas : US Embassy in New Delhi and US Consulate in Mumbai are providing emergency mission critical services to spouses of IR-1/CR-1 and children (IR-2, CR-2).
- See below screenshot or check US Embassy – Visas Section . Also, check the Tweet from US Consulate from Mumbai below.
Consular sections across India are now accepting drop box applications for renewals of all nonimmigrant visa categories at Visa Application Centers across India. Please visit our website to determine whether you are eligible for drop box processing. (1/2)— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) September 23, 2020
- September 14th, 2020 : No new update, US consulate Mumbai updated in a tweet that they have not resumed regular operations of US visa services, that includes general 221g cases as well. Check below tweet.
Dear Lokesh, there is no set date for when regular visa operations will resume at U.S. Consulate General Mumbai including nonimmigrant visa cases refused under section 221g of the Immigration and Nationality Act. (1/2)— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) September 14, 2020
- September 2nd, 2020 : Today US Consulate in Mumbai updated in a tweet that they have resumed limited 221g processing. If you were asked to submit documents previously, now you can follow those instructions given. Follow up based on instructions given to you before you go anywhere. Check below tweet.
We have resumed limited 221g processing. If you were previously asked to submit documents in support of your case, please follow the instructions you were given. Applicants who are required to appear for an interview will be notified when we are able to accommodate.— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) September 2, 2020
- September 1st, 2020 : US Consulate still continue to be closed for regular operations. They are now accepting Dropbox renewals for F, M, and J visa types including H and L who qualify under exceptions. They are not accepting any 221g pending cases. See below official tweet from US Consulate Mumbai.
Dear Kumar, there is no set date for when regular visa operations will resume. Please monitor https://t.co/GCTDQLRHaa for updates on the consulate’s operational status.— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) September 1, 2020
- August 28th, 2020 : Today US Consulate updated the text on their guidance page indicating that, only those who are eligible or qualify for exceptions under proclamation can apply for H and L visa Renewals under dropbox. In the original message, they did not had that part, now they have clarified. You can check below screenshot for the update one and previous update on what they originally had. Also, now in India, they have enabled the 24 months from Expiry clause in USTravel Docs. Check US Travel Docs section in this article for screenshot.
- August 27th, 2020 : Two updates
- Today US Embassy in India confirmed that they are now accepting dropbox applications for F, M, J, H and L Visa renewals at VAC ( Visa application centers) across India. They suggest to visit the UStravel Docs website for list of dropbox locations. Below is the press release update. See below. It is on US Embassy Website page. If you
- Also couple of users confirmed on social media groups that they were able to book a dropbox appointment today. See below screenshots. The process is simple, you need to go through the general interview booking process, the system will give you the standard confirmation screen for dropbox that tells “Congratulations ! you qualify for interview waiver…” ( see below) and then you will be prompted to book appointment.
- August 26th, 2020 : Two updates
- Yesterday US Department of State announced that they plan to change the eligibility for Dropbox appointments from 12 months to 24 months from expiry, so that many can leverage the Dropbox for visa renewals to reduce risk of COVID-19. This is valid until end of this year. For more, check US Dropbox Eligibility Changed to 24 months until Dec 31, 2020
- As of now, the US Consulates in India have not opened Dropbox processing, so we do not have details on the new change will be implemented. We need to wait. The Consulates in India continue to be closed for regular visa operations. Check below tweet from US consulate Mumbai.
Dropbox processing has not yet resumed. Please continue to monitor our website for updates— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) August 26, 2020
- August 25th, 2020 : Still the US Consulates are not open for regular operations. See below tweet from US consulate Mumbai. Also, one of our users on Telegram confirmed that they were able to use their regular F2 visa stamping appointment from the past and they got visa approved. So, if you have F1 or F2 appointment that are in August, they may not cancel them.
Dear Sneha, there is no set date for when regular visa operations will resume. Please monitor https://t.co/GCTDQLRHaa for updates on the consulate’s operational status.— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) August 25, 2020
- August 21st, 2020 : Many applicants with US Visa appointments in October got cancellation emails. US Consulate confirmed again today that they got this email because regular visa operations are not open yet in India. Also, they do not have a date yet on when they will open the consulate. They are only considering appointments for F, M and certain J visas. Also, today the USTravelDocs website was update, but message has not changed, scroll down below for the update. You can see below tweet from US Consulate Mumbai from today.
Visa interview appointments were cancelled because we are still closed for routine visa services. We will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date. (1/2)— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) August 21, 2020
- August 14th, 2020 : Today US Embassy in India made an announcement stating that they plan to start processing of Student Visas like F1 visas starting from August 17th on a limited basis. Below are more details :
- The US Consulates in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad will start to process emergency student and academic exchange visitors appointments received before August 12th.
- After they process students emergency appointments, they will open for public appointments for Students seeking visas.
- They plan to refresh appointments two two weeks before the actual dates.
- F1 Students (Students and Exchange Visitors) should schedule US visa appointment only before 3 weeks from their Classes start date. Example: if your classes start on October 21st, you can only schedule appointment on October 1st or after Oct 1st.
- Consulates will prioritise the students with schools starting earlier for fall appointments over other appointments
- All consulates in India continue to be closed for routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa services and they do not have an estimated date on when they will resume normal services.
- If you are H1B, L1 or other visa holder and qualify under New Exceptions for US Entry, Stamping and need to travel, then you may request Emergency Appointment.
- Below is the screenshot of official alert on US embassy site and Check it at USEmbassy.gov India – Visas Updates
- August 5th, 2020 : Two updates – Official, News
- Official Updates : No official updates in the form of news alrt from US Consulates, US Embassy or USTravelDocs. The only update is from US Consulate Mumbai on Twitter saying that they do NOT have an official date yet on when consulate will open. See below tweet.
- News Update : Today Times of India posted a news article that says that US Consulate would likely open next week. It does not tell the exact date. Also, they say there is no official statement on this. So, you need take this news with a pinch of salt. It is basically the same news that was reported before by Local News ( Eenadu). See below screenshot or You can check Times of India News to know more.
Dear Ankita, there is no set date for when regular visa operations will resume. Please monitor https://t.co/GCTDQLRHaa for updates on the consulate’s operational status.— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) August 5, 2020
- Jul 31st, 2020 : We got some local news few days back, but as of today, nothing is officially confirmed by US Consulates. There is no official date when they will open. US Consulate Mumbai updated in tweet saying that they do not have a date yet. We need to wait. See below tweet from them.
Dear Balaraj, there is no set date for when regular visa operations will resume. Please monitor https://t.co/GCTDQLRHaa for updates on the consulate’s operational status.— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) July 31, 2020
- Jul 29th, 2020 : US Consulates in India continue to be closed. The most recent update is from them today saying there is no date set yet on when they will open the consulate. See below tweet.
- Also today, in Eenadu Telengana News Papaer ( local state news paper), there was news article that tells that US Consulates could be opened in August 2nd week. There is no confirmed date given by Consulate as per that news. It states that it will be applicable to all the US consulates in India. We have translated it to English. See below. Link to E-News Paper. We are no official confirmation on the same from the US Embassy site.
- You may join the Telegram Group – US Visa Stampings India, if you wish to talk to users in same boat.
Dear Prasanna, there is no set date for when regular visa operations will resume. Please monitor https://t.co/GCTDQLRHaa for updates on the consulate’s operational status.— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) July 29, 2020
- Jul 16th, 2020 : US Consulate in Mumbai confirmed that they do not have any planned date set for regular visa appointments and stampings. See below tweet. It is the same case with other Consulates like Chennai, Hyderabad. No official press release or update. Also, there is no official update on the USTravelDocs Website too. We need to wait and see.
Dear Harman, there is no set date for when regular visa operations will resume. Please monitor https://t.co/GCTDQLRHaa for updates on the consulate’s operational status.— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) July 16, 2020
- Jul 12th, 2020 : After US Dept of State announced the opening on consulates, there were questions asked on Twitter to State Department regarding India and they responded telling, it all depends on the Local conditions and did not confirm, when they will open.
@harshithanags @mabaldwin While some embassies and consulates may begin phased reopening on July 15, dates will vary based on local conditions. Monitor the embassy website for the latest information on the status of their visa services.— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) July 11, 2020
- May 4th, 2020 : US Consulates in India are still closed and NOT processing any appointments or Administrative processing activities. They are only taking some emergency appointments on a case by case basis. At this point, there is no clear information on when they will open. They also are not processing Immigrant visas due to Trump’s 60 Days Immigrant Visas Suspension. You should check https://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/ for latest updates. So far nothing has changed.
- March 18th, 2020 : US Embassy India gave a news alert today indicating that they are cancelling the Dropbox and Biometrics Appointments from March 20th at all US Consulates and US Embassy. Also, they will not process 221g – Administrative Processing Cases as well. They did not indicate any date from when the services will resume. All they say is that you can use the MRV Fee receipt would be valid for 1 year and you can use it in future. This has a huge impact on many people planning to get their visa renewed or already in US with Dropbox Submissions done… See below screenshot from Indian Embassy site and US Embassy Facebook page regarding the alerts. You can check Official Press Alert by US Embassy . If you plan to go to India for Visa stamping, you need to factor in this news…if you leave US and do not have visa, you cannot re-enter.
- March 14th, 2020 : US Embassy India Confirmed today that they will continue to process and accept US Visa Appointments for Interview Waiver / Dropbox Applications and the Dropbox Locations will accept document submissions. The only exception is Kolkata, which will Not accept the documents. Also, you will be able to collect passport and also submit any documents, if you were given 221(g) under Administrative Processing. See below screenshot for the same from US Embassy India Facebook Post.
- March 13th, 2020 : US Dept of State issued an alert saying that they are cancelling all immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments from March 16th, 2020 in India until further notice. They say that the status will stand as cancelled and you will be able to re-schedule the appointment once the India Consular office resumes operations. Check below screenshot from US Consulate website for India.
USTravelDocs India Updates – US Visa Stamping Appointments
- September 28th 2020 : USTravel Docs updated their website regarding the MRV fee extension and the resuming of Immigration Visa Applicant cases. See below alert screenshot on the USTravel Docs Page.
- August 28th 2020 : Today in the US TravelDocs India website, the dropbox/interview waiver for renewals questionnaire got updated to reflect the 24 months. This is as part of the change that was announced by US Dept of State changing it from 12 months from expiry to 24 months. See below screenshot. Also, there are not other notices on their website related to the dropbox availability in the main alert on home page. Only US Embassy India Page has the news.
- August 21st, 2020 : Today USTravelDocs India website was update to new design. It is just a high level theme re-design, but most of the content has not changed. Also, the alerts and appointments related alerts have not changed. Check below on the updated website of USTravelDocs India.
- August 16th, 2020 : Today USTravelDocs India website, which is the primary website for booking appointments updated their website home page with guidance on the appointments in India at consulates. It is no different from the US Embassy update, but it is more clear and tells the visa types. Below is the high level Summary and screenshot of the update
- US Consulates will resume processing of F, M and Certain J Categories ( Alien physician, govt Visitor, international visitor, professor, research scholar, short term research scholar, specialist, secondary school student, college or University student).
- H1B, H2B, L1, H4, L2 visa and certain J visa holder, who are subject to proclamation, can only request for expedited appointment ( emergency appointment)
- You must wear Face Mask for Consulate/ OFC / Embassy
- If you are not well or believe you may have symptoms ofCOVID, do not enter and re-schedule.
- You need to have DS-160 filled before booking appointment and need to update your profile with new DS-160 confirmation barcode, if you have change any of it. You need to do it 3 days before your appointment, otherwise, you will not be allowed for interview. Bring in all copies of your DS-160 confirmation and appointment for interview. See below screenshot or directly check : https://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/index.html
- July 16th, 2020 : No new update on the USTravelDocs website. Even though there was announcement from US state department on the phased opening of the US Consulates, we have no indication on when Indian Consulate will open and they will give appointments. The previous message from June 22nd is still on the home page.
- June 22nd, 2020 : After President Trump signed the H1B, L1 Visa Travel ban until Dec 31, 2020, USTravelDocs website also was updated to reflect the same. It clearly tells that Trump Proclamation is in effect and non-immigrant visa holders on H1B, H2B, certain J and L visa holders will not be able to allowed to enter US. See below screenshot for your reference.
- March 18th, 2020 : The USTravel Docs Website updated the alert on their page indicating the cancellation of all dropbox appointments and 221g case processing. See below.
- March 14th, 2020 : The USTravelDocs Website updated their page with an alert confirming the guidance from US Embassy that all the US Visa appointments are cancelled from March 16th. They indicated that they do not also know the date when they will resume. See below screenshot.
- March 13th, 2020 : USTravelDocs.com website, that you use to book US Visa appointments gave guidance indicating that if you are experiencing any flu like symptoms, you should re-schedule your appointment by at least 14 days. This is pretty much consistent with the USCIS guidance too. Also, they say that the appointment receipt is valid for 1 year.
US Dept of State : US Consulates to Open from July 15th in phases
Jul 14th, 2020 : US Department of State confirmed today that they plan to open US Consulates and Embassies in phased manner across the world. This can vary by country. They issued a press release indicating the same. Below is the update
- US Consulates to open in phased approach depending on local conditions. No specific dates for a consulate, it all varies.
- Need to check with local embassy or consulate, when they will open and resume the appointments for visa stamping.
- Priority of appointments will be given to people with urgent need for US visa like F1 Visa applicants, Families of US Citizens, etc.
- If you need emergency appointment, you need to check with your nearest US Consulate or Embassy for information and process.
- Check US Dept of State Official Press Release
Jul 11th, 2020 : Below is update on US consulates opening across the world.
- US State Department Tweeted today, see below, indicating that they plan to open US Embassies and Consulates in phased approach starting from July 15th, 2020. They have not given definite indication that all US Consulates and Embassies would be open and it will be based on the local conditions.
- Also, there is no official announcement on travel.state.gov yet on this.
- As far as US Consulates in India goes, the same rule applies and there is no definite answer by US State Department ( see below second tweet).
- As of today July 11th, 2020 7 PM EST, there is no update on the US Embassy India or US Consulates India website. Also, there is no update on the USTraveldocs website as well yet. We need to wait for few days.
@AymanMasoud_1 Hi Ayman – Beginning July 15, US Embassies and Consulates may begin the phased resumption of routine visa services depending on local conditions. Please monitor the embassy/consulate website for the status of their services.— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) July 11, 2020
You can watch below video on where & how to check for US Consulates openings, wait times.
FAQs – US Consulates Updates with COVID-19
US Consulates in India will open for F, M and Certain J visa holders from August 17th, 2020. They are not open for other regular visa appointments yet. There is no estimated date, when it will be fully open for regular visa operations.
Not yet, recent update is only related to F, M and J visa holders and does not give any guidance on the dropbox. Since March 20th, Dropbox and Interview waiver appointments are cancelled. There is no estimated date for availability.
No, there is no refund as such. You will get a chance to book appointment once the US Consulate is open. You have one year from the day you paid Visa fee to use the same. Also, US Consulate will consider exceptions due to the Coronavirus Situation for all the visa appointments cancelled.
You do not need a new US Visa, if you are already in US. As long as you have your I-797 approval valid and I-94 valid, you are fine. All you need to do is maintain Status. Read US Visa vs. Status Difference
They are technically cancelled, you cannot attend US Visa interview until the Consulate indicates that they will start taking appointments. They will give guidance in future and you will need to re-book your appointments.
No, there is nothing you can do until US Consulate accepts US Visa appointments. If you qualify for the US Visa Stamping Exceptions, you can book an emergency appointment with US Consulate. Talk to your airline, employer and make arrangements accordingly.
No, the 221g related processing is also cancelled starting from March 18th, you cannot submit your documents and they will not be processed until further notice.
No, you cannot submit anything. Everything is cancelled until further notice.
Official Sources, Links
- US Consulate India – News Alerts COVID-19
- US Embassy Dropbox Availability Facebook Post
- USTravelDocs India Home
- Travel.State.Gov – COVD-19 Updates Page
If you are from other country, you should check your local US Consulate Website for updated information.
Did you go for Visa appointment or Dropbox ? What was your experience ?