Agents are unable to get appointments for clients before August 2023
Published: Tue 2 Aug 2022, 6:07 PM
Last updated: Tue 2 Aug 2022, 6:09 PM
Individuals with US visas that expired within the last four years will be able to request for an interview waiver, according to US embassy officials. “Anyone who has a visa that expired within the last four years will be able to renew by mail and generally won’t need to come in for an interview,” said Jonathan Webster, Consul General, US Embassy Abu Dhabi.
Previously, only individuals who had a visa that expired within the past 12 months were able to renew by mail. Speaking to Khaleej Times at the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Webster said this will be helpful to those who have a travel history to the US.
“We hope that will really benefit regular travelers to the United States and business travelers who may frequently visit,” he said. “We then work to process those visas within a matter of weeks.”
First time tourists
Webster also confirmed that first time tourist visa applicants can expect to get appointments in August 2023. “The wait time may be substantial, even up to one year,” he said. “We already have appointments filling up in August 2023. However, we urge everyone to check regularly because often there are openings much sooner due to cancellations or rescheduling. The visa application website is really the best friend for anyone looking to get a visa.”
Several travel agents speaking to Khaleej Times also confirmed that they have been unable to get US visa appointments for their clients before August next year.
The US mission is working on reducing the delays and clearing the backlog. “Just like other commercial establishments, we were impacted during the pandemic,” said Webster. “In terms of staff, we struggled to fill some of our positions for some time. But we are returning to full levels of staffing, and we are hoping to process at least 100,000 nonimmigrant visas by the end of this year in between our consulate in Dubai and embassy in Abu Dhabi. This would be at par with our pre-pandemic levels.”
Fast track services
Those looking to travel to the USA urgently for medical reasons will be given the option to request fast-track services. “We are really proud of our role in facilitating medical travel and healthcare visits at US hospitals,” said Webster.
Additionally, students looking to study in the US and those who have to attend important business meetings will be given expedited services.
The one word of caution that Webster has for tourists looking for a visa is to apply early. “We often hear from people who submit their application just a few days before their travel plans,” he said. “It is hard to let them know it won’t happen. So if people can plan ahead and schedule early, that is the best bet. Also, we encourage people to check if they meet the requirements of expedited travel and if they do so, to apply for it.”
In addition to issuing tourist visas, the embassy also offers a wide range of services to US citizens and offers immigrant visas to the US. These services are functioning at full level of capacity.