US Visa appointment wait times can be really long in India. There may be situations, where you may need to travel to US urgently and need an expedited appointment. US Consulates provide an option called “Expedited Appointment”, which is also called “Emergency Appointment” (shortly referred as “EA” by many). If you meet the required criteria, you can request for an expedited or emergency appointment using this option. This article outlines the step-by-step process to request an expedited US Visa appointment in India.
Requirements for Emergency US Visa Appointment
You need to have documentary proof that indicates the need for an expedited visa appointment. US Consulates broadly classify expedited appointment requests under the below four categories as listed below. Supporting Documents are listed as well.
- Medical or Health need : If you need to travel to US for urgent health related reasons or accompany someone you can use this option. You need to submit a letter from your doctor in India regarding your condition and why you are going to US. Also, you need similar letter from US Doctor/hospital that they will take you and proof of funds that you can pay for the treatment.
- Attend Funeral or Death : If you have to travel to attend a funeral in US or go to US to get the dead body of immediate family member(parents, siblings, child) to home country, you can use this option. You need to submit letter from US with details of the person dead and funeral info. Also, you need proof that you are immediate family member.
- Travel for Urgent Business : If you need to travel for urgent business that was not planned before, you can submit proof indicating the urgency of travel from US company or company in India. It should also include details on the loss, if not travelled. You may also request for urgent training as well for up to 3 months. Need similar letter from US and India employer indicating the need for urgency and potential loss, if cannot attend training.
- Students or Exchange Visitors: This is for students and exchange visitors, who have school starting within 60 days and cannot get an appointment. You need to submit either I-20 copy ( for students) or DS-2019 copy ( for exchange visitors) that indicates the start date of the program. You cannot apply for EA, if your visa stamping was refused within the last 6 months.
- ESTA Denied Candidates: This is for anyone who qualify for Visa Waiver program, but have got notice saying that they are not eligible to travel to US using this program. You need submit details of request, purpose of travel, copy of the CBP message online with the status of ESTA request.
- US Dept of State Exceptions : You may also request for expedited appointment, if there is any guidance in place by US Dept of State due to travel restrictions to US. For instance, Biden’s proclamation on banning Travelers from India to enter US or Trump Travel Ban for H1B Visa, Others. US Dept of State gives exceptions to get US Visa Stamping and said that you can apply using Expedited Appointment.
Not Eligible for Expedited Appointment: US Consulates will not approve expedited appointment for attending graduation ceremonies, weddings, helping family during pregnancy, attending any conferences or annual business meetings, including last minute tourism.
Now that you know the requirements, let’s review the step by step process.
Step by Step Guide for Emergency Appointment
In general, the process to apply for an expedited or emergency appointment is pretty much the same as applying for a general US Visa Appointment. The only difference is that you are going to expedite it using the provided options like submitting forms or emailing them and go for stamping. You can read How to apply for US Visa to get an idea of the general US visa process.
Step 1 – Complete DS-160
Once you determine your US Non-immigrant visa type, you need to complete the online non-immigrant US Visa application. It is also called as form DS-160 online form. This is an extensive form and you need to have all of your information handy related to your Visa category to complete the form. You will use the confirmation number given here for booking an appointment in next steps.
Step 2 – Register at USTravelDocs Website, Pay Fee
After you complete the DS-160 form, you will need to register at USTravelDocs India Website by using the Schedule your appointment option on their page. It will take you to the CGI Federal India Website that looks like below. Click on New User Option as shown below and register for account. See below screenshot of both the pages.
You will need to go through the signup process. After you successfully signup and login, you will see an option for New Application in menu. Click on that for creating new application, you will go through a set of steps and questionnaire with details of visa and plan. You will fill out all the details related to visa type, where you want to attend interview, visa category, class and personal info. You also need to enter the DS-160 confirmation number from Step 1 here. See below screenshot for an overview of all steps on the website.
At the end, you will get an option to make payment like below, you can click on Click here for all Payment options and pay the visa fee. If you pay it at bank, it can take up to 2 days sometimes for activation of receipt. See below screenshot on how it looks.
Step 3 – Schedule Regular Visa Appointment
To be eligible for expedited US Visa appointment, you need to first have a regular visa appointment already in place. Using the same USTravelDocs portal, after you pay fee, you will have an option to schedule visa appointment. Do not worry about the date, it can be anytime (even next year too). Go ahead and schedule some date. It looks like in below screenshot.
One important thing, when you select consulate, it will be the consulate that will be used for Emergency appointment, you cannot change the consulate later. So, be clear on that. If you end up selecting wrong consulate, then you will not be able to change.
Step 4 – Create Emergency Request for Appointment
After you have booked a US Visa appointment, you will see an option on the menu that says, “Emergency request”. Once you click on it, you will get a form that you need to fill with below details. See screenshot below to understand how the form looks. .
- Tentative Travel Date : You should fill the date when you plan to go to US
- Reason for Emergency : You should select the reason for asking Emergency appointment. There will be four items in the dropdown: Medical Needs, ESTA Denied, Students or Exchange visitors, Urgent Business Travel, Funeral/Death, as we described in first requirements sections. Select the appropriate one or the one closest to your need. Sometimes, it may not be clear what to select like e.g. if you are exempted under travel ban and asking for Emergency Appointment(EA) like separated with Spouse or Children. While, it is not clear, below is what many of the users used and worked.
- Newly Married, Family Separation – You would select ‘Medical Needs‘ as reason for below cases
- If you are going to US to join your spouse after wedding
- If your spouse is in US and you are getting visa to join them.
- If your spouse has visa stamping, and you both are going to US as you are exempt from Executive Order / Proclamation
- Kids Vaccination, Kids Health – You would select ‘Medical Needs‘ as reason, if your kids needs vaccination or need to submit vaccination/medical records to school.
- Urgency to Work : You would select ‘Urgent Business Travel‘ as the reason, if your employer wants you to be in US on H1B or L1 as their business is impacted or there is a strong need. In this case, employer would give you a letter stating the same.
- Newly Married, Family Separation – You would select ‘Medical Needs‘ as reason for below cases
- Brief Explanation of Emergency : You need to enter the reason for your EA request. It does not have to be long, just basic few lines that tells why you need the EA for stamping. You should indicate the details of documentary proofs that you are going to attach supporting the EA request.
- Upload Attachments : You need to upload all the supporting documents or letters for your EA like letters from your company or medical letters, marriage certificates, etc. You can upload up to 5 documents.
After you submit EA request, you will get a confirmation. Most of the times, you see this confirmation only once and after that you will not be able to see it. So, take a screenshot of the same. See below confirmation screenshot. Sometimes, you may get an error after submission like “Error occurred while loading a Visaulforce Page”. If so, call the customer service
Step 5 – Emergency Request Approval, Email
Depending on the consulate you have selected and their workload, you will get EA request decision in anywhere from few hours to 10 days. Sometimes, they take time as they will keep your request in queue. Sometimes you may get confirmation within a day or even few hours, so it all depends. On an average it can take up to 2 days. Below are confirmation email and alert messages related to the approval of EA request.
Also, when you login, you would see a small message on the top. It looks like in below screenshot. You will also get an email.
Below is the sample approval email that you get for Emergency Request approval. The email will have instructions on how soon you should schedule the slot. Some of them come with a deadline to apply.
If your EA request is denied, you would get an email indicating the same. See below sample.
Step 6 – (Optional) Emergency Request Follow ups, Alternatives
If you do not hear back from the US Consulate or USTravelDocs within a week, you can reach out to them for clarification. You can call the customer service or email them at their support email : email@example.com . Also, you can write to US consulates, if you need to follow up. Check US Consulate in India Email and Phone Number. Most of the times, you would get a response.
Below is sample email that you would get from them saying, they have put your request in wait list and you need to wait.
Alternative Options : In some case, when system was fully locked and not able to use, some of the users directly contacted the US consulate and got expedited request approved. This is not the most common approach. They always recommend to use the USTravelDocs login and EA request form for tracking. You can check Experiences of Contacting Consulate for Emergency Appointment.
Tracker for EA Requests: You can check US Visa Emergency Appointment Tracker to understand average processing times based on user-contributed data. You can add your case for community benefit too.
Step 7 – Schedule Emergency Visa Appointment
Once you login after EA approval, you will be able to schedule your visa appointment. It is just like normal visa appointment schedule, just that you will have dates open and you need to select in the available dates for you. You will select for Biometrics appointment and Visa Interview appointments.
Step 8 – Attend Biometrics, Visa Interview
The process after getting EA approved is pretty standard, there is no difference. You will need to attend biometrics on the specified date and interview as well. You should carry the documents that you submitted online for EA for a visa interview. Visa Officer may ask for the same documents to verify. If your visa is approved, you will get a US Visa foil stamped on your passport. That’s it. Below are some user experiences with EA appointments, NIE
- 15 National Interest Exception Experiences in India – Sample Letter
- Collection of US Visa Stamping Experiences with NIE, EA & Dropbox
- 20+ H4 Emergency Visa Appointment Experiences in India
Also, you may also join US Visa Stampings India – Telegram Group for getting community help.