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US Visa Emergency Appointment Experience India – F1 Student

F1 students studying in US were relived after DHS cancelled the July 6th directive for F1 Students after the Lawsuit by MIT & Harvard.  But, still prospective F1 students planning to attend school for Fall 2020 need to have their schools either in Hybrid or in-person classes to get F1 Visa. One of our readers (anonymous for privacy) was attending one such school that had hybrid mode for Fall 2020. Our reader was kind enough to share the entire end to end process of booking US Visa appointment in India and getting it stamped. Thanks a lot to the user for taking time to share the write up with our readers. We really appreciate it.

Before we get into the experience, below is the latest update on the US visa stamping for F1 students planning to go to US for Fall 2020

Update on US Visa Appointments for F1 Students: As of yesterday, there was no guidance from US Consulates in India and emergency appointment was the only way. Starting from August 17th, India consulates are set to open on a limited basis for F1 visa appointments. Check US Consulates Appointments Updates COVID-19 for more info on the update.  

Background: I am planning to attend Graduate Program at a school in US that has hybrid mode instruction for Fall 2020. My school starts on September 14th, 2020.

Booking Visa Appointment – Date does not matter.  

You first need to have an appointment; does not matter what date it is. I was able to book a regular appointment for F1 Visa Stamping in Mumbai on August 12 for some time in February 2021 in the morning time in India. Apparently, morning is when you get empty slots. Later, I requested for an expedited appointment.

Submit Emergency Appointment Request Online

You will need to submit emergency appointment request on USTravelDocs website. You will be able to see the option to book emergency appointment on the portal. It looks like below and you need to fill out the form. The form looks like below.

Emergency Appointment Screen USTravel Docs copy
US Visa Emergency Appointment Request Screen

Submitting Emergency US Visa Appointment Request with Proofs

For the emergency visa appointment request form, I attached only two documents as listed below:

  • My I-20 (Please note that since it was an updated i20, it did have a remark that my university will be hybrid for fall—but it really doesn’t matter since the previous ICE ruling has been called off now)
  • A Letter of Support from the university (This might have been a key factor in getting an approval—it clearly stated that I needed to be on campus to start my degree, and for that I need a Visa urgently. It had my basic details (name, program, DOB, country of residence), stated that I need to be on campus to start my program, and requested that I need an emergency visa appointment—written on the University Letterhead). See below letter.

In the brief Expedited Appointment request, I wrote 3 lines:

  • The university I was admitted to, and the start date (sept 15)
  • That I need to be on campus to start my program
  • Request for an expedited appointment considering the urgency.

Letter of Support by School for US Visa Emergency Appointment

Below is the letter of support that was given by the school.

Letter of Support by US University for F1 Visa Emergency
Letter of Support for Emergency Visa Appointment

Paying SEVIS Fee: One thing to note is that I paid the SEVIS fee after booking my regular appointment. Officially, they say you should pay it two days before the interview, but for me it did not turn out to be a problem at all.

 Approval of Emergency Appointment, Booking OFC, Visa Interview

Within 4-5 hours after submitting the request for emergency appointment, I got an approval. I don’t know how it was so quick.

I booked the OFC and the interview appointment for the same date (August 13), in the Mumbai Consulate.

Process for giving Biometrics (OFC or VAC)

 The VAC center opened recently and I had to give it at the VAC center. The Biometrics appointment letter will clearly tell the address, date and time. The Biometrics appointment at Visa Application center (previously called as OFC) was  at 8:30 AM and it was just usual.

They only took my temperature before entering the building and had to sanitize my hands. I was wearing my mask at all times except when my photo got clicked. I had to sanitize my hands multiple times inside, and also had to use an alcohol wipe that they gave to clean the fingerprint scanner after getting my 10 fingers scanned (that was kind of a smart move by them). I was in and out in about 15 minutes.

Process for F1 Visa Interview with Emergency Appointment

My interview was at 10:30 AM and had to kill some time before that. I reached at 10 AM, and they immediately let me in. Surprisingly, they did not read my temperature here, only sanitized my hands and did the basic security check. When I entered the consulate, it felt extremely weird because it was completely empty!

Having gone through getting a visa before, I know how crowded the place is, with thousands of people lined up! I was the only one, and I was immediately let inside the interview room. I think Mumbai consulate has around 40 interview counters generally, this time there were only 2-4 counters open. I could see 4-5 students and 4-5 H4 Visa holders being interviewed. I was immediately sent to the verification counter, where my passport, SEVIS fee receipt, and i20 were verified. And then, I was immediately sent to the interview counter. 

F1 Visa Interview Documents Checklist.

For the interview, I just took the regular documents as listed below. Nothing special.

  • Visa appointment letter
  • DS-160
  •  I20
  • SEVIS Fee Receipt
  • Financial Documents (in my case, bank statements, parents’ salary slip, and ITR)
  • University Offer letter
  • University Letter of support (that I submitted for the EA request
  • Undergraduate Marksheets
  • GRE, TOFEL score copies.  

F1 Visa Interview with Consular Officer

The Visa officer asked me to sanitize my hands and scanned my fingerprints again. I did not have to remove my mask. He stared at my i20 for a few seconds.

  • He first asked: Since I have an assistantship that partially covered my expenses, who will pay for the rest? When I told him, my dad would be covering the rest, he asked my dad’s profession and salary.
  • He then asked what’s your quarantine plan once you get there? I told him my university’s COVID-19 isolation and testing plan(for me, I need to get a test done on the 1st day, stay isolated for 5 days, get a test again—if both turn out to be negative, I’m good to go).

That’s it, he approved my visa. It lasted for a minute maybe. I was in and out of the consulate in 5-10 minutes.

Some thoughts – Advice for your F1 Visa Interview

In fact, was not even asked any other document other than my i20. What always matters more is if you’re able to give direct answers for every question or not. They know that most of your documents can be faked, so they rely on the story you tell and stitch it with what’s known to them. So be prepared with the truthful answers to every basic question. Examples of basic questions:

  • Why did you choose this degree program and the university?
  • What was your undergrad degree about?
  • Why are you choosing to go there amidst a pandemic?
  • What do you want to do after getting a degree?
  • And questions on your funding details.

Passport Collection with Visa: My visa approved and passport was received at the collection center the next day itself!

Good Luck everyone!


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  1. Hi,
    Thanks for this post. It has really helped. But I need you to enlightenment me regarding what you said about having to wait 60 days before requesting for an emergency visa appointment.

    Take a look at my case for instance my resumption date is 22 August 2021 – Are you saying it’s not advisable to request for an emergency visa appointment today, 8 May 2021 as that would make it 90 days and more prior to my resumption date??

    Do you mean I should wait till June 22, 2021( 60 days prior to my resumption) before I request for an emergency visa appointment

    Please I hope you get this soon enough. I need answers.


  2. hello everyone,

    my name is Naga Abhinav, few questions: Are F1 visa interviews happening at the moment I have an I 20 for Fall 2021 enrollment, is it only emergency appointments through which I can go for the interview and do I have to have IELTS score or can I go without it to the interview?

    thanks really appreciate it..

  3. I harsh Patel completed MS in USA with F1 visa. After completion of MS , applied for EAD card, in May-2020. I got rejection on address not matched ( address of Passport) in Oct-2020. After appeal with USCIS and rejection revoked at 19-Nov-2020. but USCIS informed that EAD cards are exhausted , No New cards now. What will be do next as my last day to stay without EAD card in USA is 15 Dec-2020.
    Any other ways to get EAD card ? or any other Visa ?

    • Patel,
      Did they give any official response telling EAD cards are not available ? It does not sound right to me as I see many other in different visa types getting EAD cards.
      If they have given a letter with I-765 approval, then you maybe able to use that…Check with DSO on this.
      You will not get EAD, if you move to other visa statuses.

  4. Is there a way to edit the Emergency Appointment request? I accidentally submitted the old I-20 (from last semester, I deferred admission) and needs to change that. I’m afraid my request could be denied because of this debacle on my part. Any suggestion – please help!

  5. Is it necessary to take the Emergency appointment interview same place as the one originally booked. Is it possible to book Delhi initially and request for emergency appointment Mumbai/Kolkata?

    • Ravi,
      You cannot change. They basically give you an option to book at the place where you have it scheduled. If you need to change, you need to exhaust all options, then pay fee again. Some tried this option.

  6. Hi,

    I am currently in US on H4 visa since March 2019 and my H4 extension (I-539) is pending since May 2020. I have recently received admit from an US university for 1 year STEM course. I would like to change my status to F1 to avail OPT / STEM OPT extension benefits. Now I understand that there are two ways to achieve this:

    File another change of status (I-539) from US itself ( As per USCIS processing time is 12-15 months)

    2. Go back to home country and get F1 visa stamped

    Due to long processing time of the first option, I am inclined to chose second option, but which options I should chose and why according to you?

    Are there any challenges that I may face in getting F1 to prove ties with the home country ?

    Also, are there any limitation on getting OPT if I attend classes remotely ( assuming I re-enter US on F1)?

    Thanks !

  7. Hi ..I am a new student for spring 2021 ..I am looking for F1 Visa interview but i am not getting the visa appointment date ..How long is the wait list

  8. Hello Kumar,

    I’ve a SPRING 2021 Admit, received my I20 very recently,

    Kumar, do the US embassy in India processing new F1 Visa requests under urgent category?
    Does a letter from University is also required for urgent processing

    thank s in advance.

  9. Hi,

    I am a new student and have an I-20 with spring 2021 date (deferred from Fall 2020).

    If I get F1 visa approved now with this I-20 but for some situation travel in Fall 2021 (with another deferment and a Fall-2021 I-20 – same university), would there be any issue with travel / CBP at Port of Entry / SEVIS record, etc.?

    Will the 5 month rule be applicable in the above case (visa approval date and travel date gap will be clearly more than 5 months)?

    Since visa stamp will have program start date as Spring 2021, will the above create any issue when I actually travel later with Fall 2021 start date in modified I-20 ?

    Any help will be much appreciated.


  10. I’m looking for an advice, I got married in Nov 2019, got my L2, since my husband was on L1, we moved to US in December, then my husband s visa was expiring in April 2020. So we had booked an visa appointment in last week of March, as per the plan, I landed in india in first week of March and husband was suppose to join me few days before the visa interview and we were suppose to return back to the US in April….but as I landed in Bangalore, a week later things changed, there was lockdown followed by cancelling of visa appointment and flights.as of now my husband is in the US and I’m here in India…refering to the recent developments of certain excemption to non immigrant visas…how can we proceed, so that I can get back to my husband at the earliest….can anyone suggest me how to go about?

    • Nayana,
      You should be able to go back as your spouse is in US. You fall under exceptions. Raise an emergency appointment request and then plan for stamping.

      • Thank you Kumar, but technically his visa has expired, he is there on I 94 document which was given during the time of immigration in Dec.

      • Hi Kumar,
        I’d need to apply for a dependent L2 visa for my infant son, My L1 is valid and stamped, can i go for emergency appointment ? Do i have to be in US for doing it ? and what reason should i select (Medical, ESTA, Urgent Business , Student) ?


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