Update Jan 13, 2021 – US embassy in India has announced that they are opening limited number of visa interview appointment slots without the need for ’emergency appointment’ requirement.
Earlier, the MRV visa application fee validity was increased to Sept. 2022.
#1 Only 1 Request for Emergency Appointment Allowed
US embassy in India is only allowing only 1 request for emergency appointment per one visa application fee. Do not use this chance if you are just giving it a try without a real emergency.
#2 Visa application fee validity increased to Sept. 22, 2022
The US embassy will allow the extension of the MRV visa application fee till Sept. 22, 2022, keeping in view the limited appointment available due to COVID-19. This is more than the normal 1-year validity.
#3 F1 Visa Emergency Criteria
Many people and immigration lawyer Murthy have reported that even though the US embassy officially said to allow emergency appointments when a student’s session start date is less than 60 days from the date of appointment, the reality is that they are rarely allowing anyone with more than 3 weeks time.
#4 H1B, H4 – First time visa appointment after lottery
You are eligible to get an interview appointment only if you have an emergency until Mar 2021 end. This is different than the H1B travel ban.
The travel ban criteria are analyzed only once you have got a visa interview appointment and at the time of your actual interview.
#5 H1B, H4 Dropbox
H1B, H4, L1, L2 can get visa stamp processed if they are eligible for Dropbox even without proving emergency.
Dropbox Appointments are available earlier than Feb/Mar 2021 for all types of visa applications.
#6 B2 Emergency Appointment
You can request and get approval for an emergency appointment only if you have a life and death situation or medical emergencies.
All other types of visitor visa emergency requests are being denied straightaway.
#4 Other Points
- Only emergency visa appointments are available till Feb and March of 2021 for F, M, J, H, and L visas. The regularly scheduled appointments will be canceled unless the COVID-19 situation improves.
- Form 221g applications are being processed but at a slow pace due to a shortage of staff.
Earlier on Oct 20, 2020, the US embassy had clearly advised to not make any travel plans in winter if you will need a US visa stamp to return.
They are expecting long delays and non-availability of interview appointments.
Earliest US Visa Appointment Date Available?
There is no expected regular visa processing reopening date available due to the ever-increasing number of Coronavirus cases in India.
Earlier, on Aug 17, 2020, the US embassy in India had announced reopening with very limited appointments. Appointments were to be made available for the US embassy in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata.
But, it seems that they have closed again and there is no date available in near future.
This article will discuss:
How to Apply Emergency Appointment Request
I am sharing this if any of your family member/or yourself who is stuck in India and wants to reunite. This will be helpful for them.
My case is that I got married in the month of February and was unable to travel to the USA because of the COVID.
Finally, after a lot of thought, I decided to Opt for the Emergency appointment at the Mumbai Consulate for getting my visa. Normal visa processing is still shut.
My Case: Newly Married
Applied for: H4 Visa
What is an emergency situation?
They consider family separation as an emergency situation for getting a visa.
My case is a pure example of that and I have seen cases where they have denied also if they don’t find your reason genuine.
My case was from Mumbai and most of the cases of family separation have been considered from (Mumbai and Delhi consulate ). It is important to select the consulate wisely.
Hyderabad Consulates are denying EA based on family separation.
I followed the steps as:
- Select the first available appointment.
- As soon as you schedule your appointment, you will receive a confirmation email from the consulate stating your new scheduled appointment. (In my case I could see the nearest date as Feb 17th, 2021)
- You will notice that there is an additional tab named Emergency request added on the left side of your screen.
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- Once you click on EA, you need 4 things to fill in
- Your tentative date to travel (closest to the present month, I selected 20th August)
- Reason for Emergency – I selected Medical needs, as this caused me and my partner mental stress and anxiety.
- A brief explanation of Emergency. I mentioned details of me getting married recently and this distance causing me mental stress and anxiety. Try writing it crisp, small, and to the point. I did not write anything about the doctor or medical condition.
- Attachments: you can submit up to 5 attachments. (I submitted my husband’s passport, i-797, H1B visa, i94, Marriage certificate)
- H4 visa stamping documents checklist.
- Submit and wait for their decision. I submitted my EA request on the 31st of July and got my EA approved on the 3rd of August. Give them 24-48 hrs to reply back.
- Log back into your profile when your EA is approved And select the closest OFC and consular date.
- NOTE: they take a Biometric and visa interview on the same date even if the OFC date is different, so please go on the date of your consular appointment.
- Schedule the EA appointment.
- Print the appointment confirmation page.
Interview date: 7th August 2020
Time: 8:30 am
Place: Mumbai Consulate
I reached there before time but they started the visa interview late. They asked me to submit for husbands I-797, my photograph 2*2 white background, Ds -160 confirmation page, my passport at the very beginning before the interview.
- Is this your first time for H4 or a renewal
- Show your marriage certificate and wedding album
- When did you get married
- Where does your husband live
- What company does he work for
- Brief details of spouse work
- What did I do in turkey (I visited there in 2019, so details about that)
- Did I travel anywhere in 2020
- Where do I work here
- How do I plan to quarantine in the US
- Since how long do you know him
- Details about my Work profile
I got my visa approved. These 6 months of being separated from my family have been the worst time of my life, especially after my wedding. I hope that this write-up will help many to reunite with their families during these uncertain times.
My VO was very friendly and sweet.
- This person is physically present in the USA working on an H1B visa. His family members are currently in India.
- His H4 dependents had an H4 dropbox appointment in April second week which was canceled due to COVID-19 closures.
The sequence of events as shared by our guest:
- He sent an email on June first week to the Hyderabad US embassy asking for help.
- Embassy reply: Embassy closed. Cannot process applications.
- Follow up email in July first week requesting help for H4 dependents.
- Embassy reply (July first week): Embassy cannot process H4 visa applications due to Travel ban EO signed by trump.
- Embassy reply (July 15): Send documents to prove emergency for H4 visa.
Can you request emergency Appointment?
If your H4 family is stuck in India, you can give it a try and try requesting an expedited visa processing by sharing details such as:
- Your kid (H4) is missing school and has never attended school in India.
- Your H4 spouse does not work in the USA – so there is no chance of affecting American worker jobs. Chances are good in this case but not guaranteed.
Travel Ban Restrictions
If you are trying to apply for a visa category that currently has travel restrictions like H1B, L1, J1, or their dependents, then you may not be issued a visa.
USA H1B Travel Ban Suggestions App >
Dropbox appointments are available but in limited numbers due to COVID distancing rules.
Note that you may be called for an in-person visa interview even if you are eligible for dropbox.
There is no guarantee that you will be given a faster interview appointment if they issue the form 221g after the dropbox.
US visa fees are non-refundable.
It is valid for 1 year from the date of payment. As far as we know, the US embassy has not announced an extension of this fee payment validity.
US embassy will give you a chance to reschedule your visa appointment later without paying fees again.
You can visit any other country for your US visa stamp if you can and the embassy is open there.
Some people are trying to visit Canada or Mexico to get a US visa stamp if the US embassy is open there.
You should carefully check the travel restrictions before buying any flight tickets or booking an interview appointment with the US embassy.
You can work remotely from India. Short term work from outside the USA on H1B or L1 visa is acceptable.