There have been growing concerns in India over the long waiting period for first time visa applicants, especially for those applying under B1 (business) and B2 (tourist) categories.The waiting period of first time B1/B2 visa applicants in India was close to three years in October last year.
Appointment wait times have been consistently high for US visas, putting jobs and study plans for many in jeopardy.
India was one of the few countries where applications for US visas saw a major upswing after coronavirus-related travel restrictions were lifted.
There have been growing concerns over the long waiting period for first time visa applicants. The waiting period of first time B1/B2 visa applicants in India was close to three years in October last year.
While the wait time for a student visa (F-1) has stabilised to about 90 days, business and tourist visas (B-1, B-2) wait times remain high, reaching almost two years in most consulates around the country.
The US is “putting every ounce of its energy” to eliminate the long visa wait time in India, including sending a cadre of consular officers to the country and opening up its other overseas embassies as far away as Germany and Thailand for Indian visa applicants, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services, Julie Stufft said in an interview.
For those who cannot afford the wait, third country national (TCN) visa processing come to the rescue. A Third Country National visa is a visa application or a visa obtained from a U.S. consulate in a country other than your home country.
“Applying from a third country for many visas is a good idea. This is called third country national processing TCN is actually currently encouraged for work visas,” says Rajiv S Khanna, managing partner at immigration.com.
The biggest advantage is that visa appointments may be more readily available than in India.
Poorvi Chothani, Managing Partner at LawQuest, lays out the disadvantages of the TCN route.
First, local officers outside India are not familiar with Indian culture and practices. So convincing them of non-immigrant intent, a key element of a non-immigrant visa process can be a challenge, she says.
Also, practical problems of cancelling the application portfolios on the system in India, creating a new one in the foreign country and paying visa fees in the foreign country are also challenging.
Thirdly, the applicant can only consider countries for whish they have visas or those that allow Indians to travel visa free or issue visas on arrival.
Applicants with prior denials, criminal records, and/or extremely weak financial backgrounds, are less likely to succeed with the TCN option, Chothani warns.
Indians make up a large proportion of the recipients of H-1B and other work visas granted to skilled foreign workers, many in the tech industry.
India broke the record for most student visas last year and it may do so this year again, she said, adding that India is now number two in the world in terms of international students coming to the United States.