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Sanwar Ali: US visa delays can be very significant


President Biden holds Nato Press Conference

The White House, Public Domain

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By Sanwar Ali:

According to the US Government own news media service “Voice of America” visa processing delays are the worst since 9/11 terrorist attacks more than twenty years ago.  Some applicants are having to wait six months to a year for a visa interview.

As reported in "Voice of America", David Bier associate director of immigration policy at the libertarian Cato Institute said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic processing stopped at US consulates around the world.

“They just stopped doing work during COVID. And that produced what we're seeing now, which is year-plus waits, massive backlogs and all the problems associated with that,”

Visa processing delays much worse than under 2001 terrorist attacks

Two years after the terrorist attacks a State Department official told a House committee hearing on visa services that:

“the vast majority of our cases are completed within three weeks.”

US State Department trying to reduce wait times

There has been a substantial increase in staffing to deal with the backlog in visa processing. 

 "The State Department is actively addressing consular staffing gaps created by the pandemic by onboarding and training new employees,” the spokesperson said in an email.

Bier had the following comments to make:

"The last time visa wait times grew above a few months, then‐President Obama ordered that 80 percent of all temporary visas be issued in less than 21 days. This executive order (and the knowledge that it was coming) promptly brought visa wait times down to a few days, but former President Trump rescinded the order, and President Biden has failed to reissue it. There is no reason to wait for this crisis to worsen,” 

Some visa applicants can come under the US visa interview waiver

One bit of good news is that for certain temporary non-immigrant visa categories it may be possible to obtain an interview waiver, so substantially reducing processing times.  This includes some popular work visa categories such as the H1B visa, L1 visa, etc   Unfortunately, it does not include the E2 visa and E1 visa category.   The US visa categories that are eligible to come under the interview waiver are temporary work visa categories H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visas, based on individual petitions.  So this would not cover the L1 blanket petitions.  To come under the interview waiver scheme, there should not also be added complications with the visa applications  The interview waiver can also be used for  F, M, and academic J nonimmigrant visa applications. can help with US employment-based visas

If you would like to apply for a US work visa – including L1 visasE2 visasO1 visas and H1B visas - can help. is a specialist visa services firm with over thirty years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Contact us for further details. You can also telephone 0344 991 9222.