VISA News For Our Clients From India
In the recent past, we have been advising our clients in H-1 status, if it is not necessary, that they not make any trips to India if, by doing so, they will need to obtain a visa to return to the United States. A look at the blogs and chats regarding the American consulates in India will confirm that they have been extremely difficult in issuing visas, sometimes, taking months, and on other occasions, not issuing visas to clients who have received approval notices for their H-1s.
Under a new initiative, qualified persons who were interviewed and thoroughly screened in prior visa application may be able to renew their visas without undergoing another interview. This program will allow consular officers to waive interviews for Indian nationals who are renewing their visas, in the same classifications as the previously issued visas. This waiver used to be available only to persons who were applying for B1/B2 visas and J2, H4 and L2 visas. Now, this waiver program is being extended to temporary workers on H-1B visas and L-1A and L-1B visas.
In applying for such a waiver for an H or L visa renewal, the person’s most recent visa must still be valid or must have only expired within the previous 12 months.
In order to apply for the waiver, the applicant must complete Form DS-160 and pay all relevant visa application and reciprocity fees. During the process, the applicant will be asked a number of questions to determine whether he or she is eligible for the waiver. Even if eligible, the consular officers have been given discretion to require interviews, anyway.
This is a relatively new program and it will soon be evident whether it is working effectively or not. If long delays or denials continue to surface, then we may continue to discourage our clients from traveling to India to get visas issued or revalidated. Hopefully, that will not be the case.