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US Visa Appointments in India – Guidance by Head of Consulates[Nov 21]

Even though the US Travel Ban was lifted this week, the US Consulates in India have not resumed regular operations yet. Back in June 2021, there was a live online session with head of US consulates that gave insights on US Visa appointments situation. Similar to that, there was a Facebook Live event today with Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, Don Heflin. He gave more details on what to expect in terms of US visa appointments in India in the upcoming months. We have divided into sections for easy understanding.

General Dropbox, In-Person Interviews, Wait Times, Slots

  • US Consulates in India will process primarily US Visa renewals using dropbox due to staffing situation with COVID and social distancing.
  • The in-person appointments will be available, but in limited numbers. The main reason is social distancing and the way the consulates are built in the past are not suitable for handling large number of people, so most of the appointments would be dropbox.
  • The US Dropbox Eligibility changed to 48 months until expiry is valid till Dec 31st, 2021. Though they did not explicitly say, based on the message, the 48 months until expiry rule will be extended beyond December 31st, 2021. We need to wait for official update on US consulate website.
  • Expect very long wait times as only 25% of India population is vaccinated and this will limit the ability to open up consulates like before.
  • US Consulates will open around 50% of slots in November and December 2021 for next year and they will add more slots closer to the date depending on the demand.
  • US Consulates will cancel any appointments that are issued in later part of next year like Oct 2022. All of these are placeholder slots given for Booking Emergency Appointment Slot in India. They will honor appointments that are booked recently for Jan 2022 or so.
  • You should only use Emergency Appointment booking for medical reasons and real emergencies. Having wedding or visiting friends & family is not considered emergency.
  • Agents Fraud for Booking Slots : They did acknowledge the issue with agents trying to book slots. They have few checks in place and have contracts reviewing the issue. They say that there are enough slots open, so should be fine. You can report fraud agents to them using email MumbaiF@state.gov 
  • You cannot convert a In-person appointment to Dropbox appointment or vice-versa. If you have any of these, just stick to them, do not try to change them.
  • You may check US Visa Appointments in India News updates page for timeline of updates, to know weekly changes from past until now.

F1 Visa Appointments, Returning F1 OPT

  • US Consulates in India will focus most of the November and December 2021 processing visa appointments for Student Visa holders (F1, J1) planning to go to US for Spring 2021.
  • If you are a student in US on OPT and planning to come to India for visa renewal, you can get it renewed using dropbox, if eligible. But, be aware there is no guarantee for slots, be prepared ahead of time and book appointment before you travel. Consulates suggest to avoid travel, if you can as slots are limited.
  • You need to meet the vaccination requirements as listed by the CDC. If you have only one dose you cannot travel to US. Going to school in January is not considered as emergency to get exception from CDC for travel to US.
  • If you already had F1 Visa stamping done and have valid F1 visa, but got a new I20 and SEVIS Number, then you can travel to US with the valid visa and new SEVIS and I-20. You will need to explain it to the CBP officer at US Port of Entry during the Port of Entry Process to enter US. It is not required to get a new Visa.

H1B, L1, H4, L2 Visa Appointments Situation in India

  • US Consulates will process H1B, H4, L1 and L2 visa appointments as next priority after F1 students appointments during November and December 2021.
  • More H & L Visa Appointments ( H1B, H4, L1, L2) will be opening starting from January 2022 until May 2022. The maximum slots will be given for Dropbox appointments and fewer in-person appointment slots.
  • H & L Visa appointments will be a priority for consulates during January to May 2022 and they will process more appointments.
  • You cannot travel to US with expired H1B visa with only I-797 approval notice that is valid. You need a valid H1B visa to travel to US. You can apply for H1B Dropbox stamping to get visa to travel to US.

B1/B2 Visitor Visa Appointments – New, Renewals

  • B1/B2 Visitor Visa Appointments will be opening starting from January 2022 until May 2022. Most of these appointments will be primarily Dropbox appointments for renewals of B1/B2.
  • There will not be any appointments open for B1/B2 during Nov or Dec 2021
  • US consulates do not plan to give fresh or new B1/B2 appointments for visitors, including parents, during this period.
  • The B1/B2 Visa appointment slots for January to May 2022 will be open around late November 2021 and in early December 2021. Keep an eye on the appointment. They will not give specific dates and times on when they will open these slots.

Travel to US, Vaccination Certification, NIE

  • You can take any WHO approved or FDA approved vaccines for travel to US.
  • COVAXIN and Covishied, that are widely administered in India are accepted.
  • You need to be fully vaccinated as per CDC to travel to US. Very limited exceptions.
  • Check List of Vaccines for US travel, Fully Vaccinated Status meaning
  • If you need exception from vaccination to travel to US, you need to email consulate on your situation after getting US visa and they will contact CDC to get you the exception. These are very rare to get and very limited. So, getting vaccination is the best thing, if you can.
  • You do NOT need National Interest Exception(NIE) to travel to US. If you have NIE approved, it means nothing now. You need to be vaccinated to travel to the US.
  • There is no quarantine requirement, if you have vaccination after you enter US.
  • The children COVID testing requirements to enter US are same as the adult they are accompanying. Meaning, if the adult gets a test within 72 hours, the child also can get within 72 hours. But, if the child is traveling standalone, they need to get it in 24 hours as per standard CDC guidance for unvaccinated individuals.
  • Indian vaccination certificates are valid. They need the date of birth for validation. So, you need to have all the date of birth related proof like Aadhar Card, passport that ties back your name to date of birth.

221(g) Cases Stuck, issued during Travel Ban

  • If you have received 221(g) for Administrative Processing due to the Travel ban, your cases will be processed by consulates very soon. Consulates will contact you regarding your case in the upcoming weeks.
  • If you do not hear from them, you can reach out to the consulates that gave you the same. Check US Embassy website for more updates on the same.
  • You do not have to pay MRV or Visa fee for processing of 221g cases. Also, there may not be a need to fill the DS-160 for again. But, this will be confirmed by consulate based on your case. So, wait for consulate guidance on the same.
  • If you are new, read what is 221g administrative processing

Green Card holders Stuck in India, US Citizen Kid

  • If you are a green card holder stuck in India for over a year, you need to apply for SB-1 Visa, if your re-entry permit is not valid.
  • You can email the consulate at their ivnd@state.gov , if you need more info on this.
  • US Citizen Child : If you have younger US Citizen child, you may qualify for emergency appointment based on their health situation or school situation in US. You can raise Emergency appointment with relevant details and they may consider under family ties.

Immigrant Visas, C1D, Other Misc Topics Addressed

  • There is a huge backlog of Immigrant visas and the consulates are trying to process as many as they can. But, just need a lot of catch up to do. So, wait for the consulate or contact them.
  • Mumbai consulate if fully focused on the immigrant visa, they are trying to process more.
  • Afghan SIV – You can apply for your SIV case in New Delhi Consulate. If you are already in India. But if not, do not try to come without proper paperwork. Contact Embassy for more info.
  • You cannot get US Visa stamping in the US, you need to go to other country or your home country to get Visa. You can go for other countries for stamping, if you can get slots.
  • Mumbai is processing CR1 visa slots and they will open for more categories. Just that there is a lot of wait time.
  • They will process all C1D Cases stuck in 221g as well as time permits. Just lot of catch up to do.
  • O Visa appointments may be opened. The problem is they cannot open for some visa types as there is a system issue. If you are O visa, you can email consulate and ask for Emergency appointment to get stamping done.
  • They do not plan to open new consulates in India. They are planning for a big Consulate building in Hyderabad in 2022.
  • They cannot add more people to tackle the demand of visa appointments. Just have to live with what they have now.

What do you think of the update by US Embassy ? Share your thoughts in comments below.

You can watch the official recording at below video


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  1. Greetings, Yesterday I booked VAC and Interview appointments for Dec’22. Are these placeholders? I’ll need to make travel plan so how can I confirm if any appointment is Placeholder or now.

      • Thank you for reply! Nothing was mentioned however it got cancelled yesterday. Do you know what are rules for placeholder appointments?

        • Akki,
          The rule is simple, when you book, it will say on the home page if the slots open for further months are placeholder or not. They are meant to give the users an option to raise expedited or emergency appointment request. If you do not get approved for the emergency, then they will cancel. If you really do not have a valid reason, you should not even apply for the Emergency appointment.

      • Hello,
        Could you please link the original source of this information?
        I am unable to find it on this page. Unfortunately, I was able to book an appointment for Dec’22.

  2. I thought embassy are opened and I have filled out DS-160 and already paid visa free for fresh B1/B2 visa for parents. I am not able to select calendar date 🙁 Do you think in newer future they will open for B1/B2 (India) visitor visa interview for new applicant?

    Hope VO don’t say your DS-160 is very old or something. what option i have now

    • Same issue. Process is atrocious & there’s no communication from their end explaining why slots are open for OFC scheduling but upon selecting they don’t allow you to confirm appt. You can neither ask nor reason with. They only expect us to endure. Good luck to all of us.

  3. Have been checking regularly for H1BVisa appointment, none available till November 22′. Few are available in March and May, when I click on them it says “no appointments are available, try again”, really confused. When can we expect visa slots in Jan-Feb-march?

  4. Hello,

    Do anyone know why previously refused F1 student visa candidate can’t get the visa appointment dates?

    I am looking for same since 2 months but not a single date is available.

    Please help me.


  5. Hello,

    Do anyone know why previously refused F1 student visa candidate can’t get the visa appointment dates?

    I am looking for same since 2 months but not a single date is available.

    Please help me.


  6. The Dropbox appointments for B1/B2 are now available for Jan /Feb 2022. Make sure to start a new application instead of just hitting the continue button. Dropbox eligibility questions are on step 7.

  7. Has anyone had any luck finding dropbox appointments for B1/B2 visa so far? I have been checking daily from Nov 20th on, and so far haven’t see anything. Not sure if they are yet to open any dropbox appointments for B2 or it is just me? It is already beginning of December, and as per them they should have provided dropbox slots now for January and February appointments.

  8. >O Visa appointments may be opened. The problem is they cannot open for some visa types as there is a system issue. If you are O visa, you can email consulate and ask for Emergency appointment to get stamping done.

    How do we get in touch with the consulate? support-india@ustraveldocs.com is not taking my request and telling to go and book the next available appointment in the system.


  9. Hi,
    I have submitted my vis a fee on nov 11 2021. Still waiting for activation. I have also created 2 cases in ustraveldocs site. First case they just closed. I again created a case. They asked me details about transaction. Still not getting any answer. Does anybody has any idea how much time it will take to activate my receipt. I made online payment(NEFT). Also, is it same situation for over the counter payment?

  10. Thank you for this update. My husband is in India and we are waiting for immigrant visa appointment. This excuse of the building being too small for distancing is absurd. India has festivals where no one wears masks. But they can’t modify how many people they allow inside the embassies!? I want them to make a real effort to clear this back log. It’s been torture to be separated so long with no idea when we can be together.

    • I know how you feel, my situation same like yours, my husband still in India and he has to do all this verifications all over again, and I am praying that US Mumbai Consulate will continue the process for visa interview…

  11. I was trying for Visa slot in Delhi Consulate for December 1st or 2nd week, its showing all the consulates are blocked…
    Any leads whether the slots will get released in this month or they will not release any?
    Also let me know, what is the ideal time for booking a visa slot..?
    Thanks in Advance!

  12. My B2 visa expired in Sept 21.I am to go to Singapore on Long term visa to Singapore. Can I get drop box facility for renewal at Singapore?

  13. Has anyone travelled with an F1 Visa issued for another school (with a different SEVIS)? The article mentions that F1 visa is not required again and can be explained at Port of Entry. But the USTravelDocs says it is required. Which one to believe?

    Has anyone travelled like that?

  14. Hi kumar,
    Many thanks for the up to date information on immigration. My question is slightly off topic, please kindly answer.

    I have 15 years of total IT experience, working in India in a reputed US based firm with more than 1000 employees. I had h1b rejection in 2013 through a consulting firm A due to 221g, followed by failed client verification (client did not continue business relation with consulting firm A, hence told the USCIS verificaiton team that they were no longer doing business with peteitioner )

    I was in US on a B1 for three weeks in 2017 through employer X , a reputed US firm.

    I got an other offer through employer B in 2019, which was a start up of 3 employees at that time. My h1b again went into 221g during my interview in 2019. Employer has withdrawn due to urgent requirement of the posiiton and adminsitraive processing delays.

    The current company C, US based reputed firm with more than 1000 employees has offered L1 B now. I am intending to go for L1B stamping in early 2022.
    Does my previous H1B rejections affect my L1B visa approval at time of L1 stamping ? I got the 2013 visa rejection reason through official FOIA( Freedom of information act) USCIS documentation. Can i proactively ask consular officer to consider the actual H1B reason while adjudicaitng my L1B during consulate inteview?

    Please kindly help

  15. @Vijay – I received a couple of cancellations emails from the Delhi and Mumbai consulate for my interview in late Jan/Feb 2022. I booked these appointments very recently probably during Sept-Oct 2021.

    On the portal, my appointment is not canceled and is scheduled with no changes at the time of booking. Should I assume these are canceled or my appointment will be honored?

    Thank you in Advance.

  16. Helpful as always.
    What did they say specifically that gave an indication that the 48 months cutoff may get extended beyond December 2021? Thanks

  17. I am looking drop off appointment in Delhi or anywhere in India, But always showing no appointment available.Please help how to get appointment customer care was saying they are releasing slots on daily basis but I never seen any open appointment.
    please helpif any specific time to login and try to book appointment I am looking appointment between Dec 21, 2021 to Jan 22, 2022.

  18. Hi Kumar,

    What if we vaccinated with Sputnik which is not in CDC accepted list for US travel.
    What are the chances of US travel.? Do we need retake vaccination with covishield or covaxin using another id ex.Pancard and then travel?
    or do we have only chance to wait till the sputnik v approval/acceptance.?

    • Raj,
      Yes, sadly you may need to retake the vaccination. They are not approved by WHO. We do not know when they will give approval for Sputnik, so better thing to do is get a new vaccination. Talk to doctor before you do this step to be safe.

  19. Atleast one embassy should make new appointments for those who are vaccinated I hope they should give me and others a chance for the tourist visitors

    • Sucy,
      I wish, they did something like that. Sadly, they have taken decision not to do anything like that in India…other countries consulates are in fact processing some of them.

  20. Looking for H4 Dropbox appointments for my Wife and Kid who are going to India in late Dec 2021 with an expired Visa Stamp. I hope the slots open up for their quick return.

    Anybody in the same boat?
    Also, the travel to India can’t be cancelled, tried convincing everyone involved already. It’s the marriage of my BIL which in no manner can be skipped by wife.

  21. My name is Omid. I have a construction and logistics company in Afghanistan. Form the 2006 I have been awarded contracts and completed Differents projects with the US Army military forces.

    Afghanistan is in a very bad situation right now. Right now my life is dealing with death. And I have a lot of problems.

    The Taliban want to kill me. Because I have done a lot of service with the International Military Forces. They are want kill me.

    So now I want to emigrate from my country. And I hope from you to cooperate with me. I will be very happy from you.

    Your Sincerely

    Omaid Fairozi


  23. Hi Kumar
    I have received 221g white slip from the Mumbai Consulate. My case status was refused. Should I pay another visa fees and attend Interview or I do direct Email to Mumbai Consulate for reconsidering my application. What should I do?

    • Toni,
      They will give B1/B2 Dropbox only as per the guidance until May 2022. Also, this guidance is for Indian Consulates only. You can watch the recording at the end.

      • Question
        It’s stated in this article that renewal of B1 B2 will processed first and no fresh B1 B2.
        My question, DS 160 is the same for renewal or fresh. There is no renewal form for B1B2. This being the case how will consulate identify if already applied like on my case

  24. Hi, In the above article I noticed this “US consulates do not plan to give fresh or new B1/B2 appointments for visitors, including parents, during this period.”
    This period refers to Nov – Dec 2021 or Jan – May 2022 ? Any inputs will be really helpful

      • Question
        It’s stated in this article that renewal of B1 B2 will processed first and no fresh B1 B2.
        My question, DS 160 is the SAME for renewal or fresh. There is no renewal form for B1B2. This being the case how will consulate identify if already applied like on my case. I have already applied. Yes there is one place where we mention previous visa number.
        2nd question
        Our present B1B2 was issued in middle East. Now we have settled in India. So will it be a drop box or in person
        Any guidance will be helpful

        • Vijayan,
          1. When you try to book the appointment, you would fill a questionnaire, that will decide, if it is new or renewal.
          2. Well, this one was not possible before, but it maybe possible as they changed the rules earlier this year allowing other countries stamping also for renewal in India. Double check with consulate to be sure.

        • Did you find out an answer to this? My parents are also in similar position and are trying to understand if they can do Dropbox. Their previous visa was issued in Abu Dhabi.

  25. I have been in USA on F1, H1-B (Hyd stamped, no annotation) until September 2018. After H1B Expiry on Sept 2018, returned to India and travelled to USA on Nov 2 – 30, 2019 for Conference on B1 Visa (stamped in Hyd again). But while entering usa on B1, CBP officer has written with pen CWOP roughly on expired H1-B & F1. Recently when i went to drop box in Hyd, VAC officer asked to attend in person (taken little time to say) and said i am not eligible for drobox. Do i am eligible for drop box or for sure i need to be in person ?
    Any relevant information would be helpful so that i can reference and schedule for drop box again

  26. Is anybody seeing the dropbox slots available for H1B renewal? I have been trying to secure a slot since past 3 months with no luck at all.


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