The US Embassy in India has released over 1,00,000 appointments for H&L visas for workers and their families bringing in a relief for those who have been waiting to see their families since the pandemic started. The L-1 and the H-1B visas are the two most popular non-immigrant work visas issued by the US.
On Friday the US Embassy in India tweeted: “In response to high demand for employment-based visas, the US Mission to India recently released over 100,000 appointments for H&L workers and their families. Thousands of applicants have already booked their appointments and the wait time for both interview waivers and first-time appointments has been cut in half throughout Mission India. This bulk appointment opening reflects our ongoing commitment to H&L workers.”
In another tweet added: “In fact, in the first nine months of 2022, the U.S. Mission to India had already processed over 160,000 H&L visas and we will continue to prioritise H&L workers for visa appointments as resources allow.”
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L-1A and L-1B visas are available for temporary intracompany transferees who work in managerial positions at multinational companies. Whereas H1-B Visa is a multiple entry non-immigrant visa that allows foreign workers employed by US companies to work in the country.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on his recent visit to the US had highlighted the issue of visa delays with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Blinken at that time had said the process will be addressed.
On 30 September, US Embassy Counselor Don Heflin said that there are people in the US on H and L visas who haven’t been able to come home and see their families since the pandemic started. He said: “…we sympathise with them a lot. We are going to, sometime in the next few weeks, open 100,000 appointments in the year 2023 for this category of visas. And for those of you who are interested in this and want a slot, just check our website every two or three days, every two or 3 hours during October.”
Earlier this month, the US Embassy in India opened the appointments for all categories of visas adding that the wait time would be high owing to high demand for the visas, reduced staffing, and pandemic-related disruptions in operations since March 2020.
But despite this relief to H&L visa holders, the wait time for first-time applicants for B1 (business) and B2 (visitor) visas are still 884 days in Delhi, 767 days in Kolkata, and 872 in Mumbai. This would mean that interested visitors can expect to get an appointment in January 2025 or even later.