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What You Need to Know About the New US VISA Application Process for Students

If you plan on studying in the United States of America, there is good news for you! On November 24, 2023, the US Embassy in India announced a new passport policy through their X (previously Twitter) account. The new policy aims to discourage fraudulent activities and misuse of the VISA appointment system. Starting November 27, 2023, all F, M, and J student VISA applicants must use their passport information when creating a profile and scheduling their VISA appointment. It is important to note that if you use an incorrect passport number, your appointment will be cancelled, and your VISA fee will not be refunded.

This update aims to satisfy students’ high demand for US VISA appointments and prevent fraudulent agencies from scalping slots. For example, people could previously book VISA appointments with a different or fake passport number, secure a slot for the interview, and then change the passport number later. This was causing a lot of problems for deserving students who are left waiting for a long time to get their VISA appointment or are forced to pay a high price for a closer slot. This practice is unfair and puts many students in a desperate position.

Things to keep in mind before you book your VISA appointment

  • If you have booked your VISA appointment using an incorrect passport number, then you should either create a new profile or use a profile that has your correct passport number. You will have to pay the VISA fee again if you use an incorrect passport number.
  • You must also ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States of America.
  • If you have recently renewed your passport or obtained a new passport after the old one was lost or stolen, you need to bring a photocopy or some other evidence of the old passport number and then only you be allowed to proceed with your appointment.

Benefits of the new Passport policy

The new Passport policy, effective from November 27, 2023, brings several advantages for aspiring students:

  • The mandatory use of your own passport information stops fraudulent practices, ensuring the authenticity of the VISA process.
  • The prohibition on booking appointments with different or fake passport numbers prevents the unfair advantage gained by some individuals, promoting equal opportunities for all deserving students.
  • The restriction on changing passport information after securing a VISA appointment eliminates the practice of scalping appointments. This will result in more time slots available for all applicants.

Some other significant changes have been mentioned, which are as follows:

New DS-160 Policy

The DS-160 is the online VISA application form that you must fill out before the interview. If you have made any changes to your DS-160 form after submitting it, you must bring both the original and the corrected DS-160 confirmation pages to the VISA Application Center. This applied to all appointments booked on or after November 15, 2023. If you do not bring both confirmation pages, you may have to either have to cancel or reschedule your appointment. Therefore, you should review your DS-160 carefully and make sure that all the information is accurate and complete.

The fee for the DS-160 form has also changed from $160 to $185.

New Interview waiver policy

The new interview waiver policy allows some applicants to renew their VISA without having to attend an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate. This can save you time and hassle, especially if you live far away from the nearest VISA office. To qualify for the interview waiver, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You are renewing any VISA in the same category within 48 months of expiration. For example, if you have an F-1 VISA that expired in June 2023, you can renew it without an interview until June 2027.
  • You are applying in your country of nationality or residence. For example, if you are an Indian citizen living in India, you can apply for an interview waiver. However, if you are an Indian citizen living in Singapore, you cannot apply for an interview waiver.
  • You are applying for one of the following VISA categories: F, H-1, H-3, H-4, non-blanket L, M, O, P, Q, or academic J. For example, if you are an F-1 student, you can apply for the interview waiver. However, if you are a B-1/B-2 visitor, you cannot apply for the interview waiver.

If you are eligible for the interview waiver, you can follow these steps:

  • Fill out and submit the DS-160 form online and print the confirmation page.
  • Pay the VISA fee online and print the receipt.
  • Create a profile on the online appointment system and select the interview waiver option.
  • Drop off your passport, DS-160 confirmation page, VISA fee receipt, and any other required documents at the nearest VISA Application Center or document drop-off location.
  • Wait for your passport to be delivered or ready for pickup. This may take up to three weeks, so plan your travel accordingly.

New expedited appointment policy

This policy allows some applicants to request an interview date earlier than the regular schedule if they have urgent or compelling reasons to travel to the United States. Some of the reasons that may qualify for an expedited appointment are:

  • Medical emergency or treatment for yourself or a close family member.
  • Urgent business or academic travel that cannot be postponed.
  • Humanitarian or national interest reasons, such as attending a funeral or participating in a cultural exchange program.

To request an expedited appointment, you must follow these steps:

  • Fill out and submit the DS-160 form online and print the confirmation page.
  • Pay the VISA fee online and print the receipt.
  • Create a profile on the online appointment system and book a regular interview date. Do not cancel this date unless your request is approved.
  • Request an expedited appointment through the online appointment system or by sending an email to support-india@usVISAscheduling.com. You must provide a clear explanation of your situation and attach any supporting documents, such as medical reports, invitation letters, or flight tickets.
  • Wait for a response from the customer service centre. They will review your request and inform you if you are approved or denied. If you are approved, they will give you a new interview date and time. If you are denied, you must keep your original interview date.

Check out Collegepond’s US VISA Master Guide to learn how to apply step by step for a student visa in the US. 

New customer service platform

There has been a new customer service platform created for VISA applicants in India. You can now get in touch with customer care through a new email address: support-india@usvisascheduling.com. You can use the email address to ask any questions or concerns about your visa application, such as scheduling, rescheduling, or cancelling your appointment and paying your visa fee.

The US Embassy recently announced policy adjustments that will take effect from November 27, 2023. These changes aim to take a proactive stance against malpractices and reinforce the integrity of the VISA appointment process. One of the foundational changes is the mandate to use personal passport details during the application process, which will eliminate the abuse of the system. Additionally, the New DS-160 Policy emphasizes the importance of accuracy in the online VISA application form, while the Interview Waiver Policy offers convenience for applicants applying for a VISA in the same category. Furthermore, the Expedited Appointment Policy caters to urgent travel needs. All of these changes collectively reflect a comprehensive effort to enhance the overall application experience.

If you need guidance for stuying in the US or have any queries regarding these new changes, our team of experts can help you every step of the way. Book your 1-to-1 counselling session with us today!

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Address: Office No. 204, 2nd Floor, ML Spaces, Dashrathlal Joshi Rd. Opp. Old Jain Mandir, Vile Parle West, Mumbai – 400056.

 

Email: info@collegepond.com

 

Call Us:  022-46003655

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