Indian students applying for an F-1 student visa to the US for the first time can rejoice as there could be more interview slots reserved for fresh applicants to pursue their education in the Land of the Free, said a report.
In a 30-minute Facebook live chat on April 18, 2022, while addressing several non-immigrant visa changes, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US embassy Donald L Heflin made the important announcement that first-time applicants for a student visa to the US will be prioritised.
Student visa to the US: Changes to support new applicants
Students who were previously refused a visa, or were turned down in Spring this year and were planning to apply again in Summer — are unlikely to get interview slots again this year, reported the Times of India (TOI).
Heflin said students applying for the first time have the best chance of getting their student visa to study in the US approved during the first interview.
“I am going to use the cricket term. A lot of you guys are worried about getting bowled out before you even step on the crease. But a vast majority of students hit a six in the first interview which is your best chance of getting your visa. Don’t worry about whether you get a second chance or not,” Heflin was quoted saying.
Despite causing a stir during an initial reporting of this visa policy change in the TOI, Heflin said the policy change is to help fresh applicants who are turning up to the interview slot for the first time. Blocking out applicants who were refused a visa previously gives first-time US student visa applicants a better chance.
The Delta variant spike of the COVID-19 pandemic had slowed down the opening of interviews for Indian students looking to obtain a student visa to the US last year. When interview slots were finally opened on June 14, 2021, many students had already received their I-20 documents from US universities and were anticipating the visa interview.
Need an earlier student visa appointment? Do not despair. We will be adding additional July appointments soon. Please do not submit an emergency appointment request. We cannot accommodate the volume of requests.
— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) June 17, 2021
The issuance of student visas to the US reached a monumental level last year, peaking at 62,000 student visas. The US embassy hopes to issue more student visas this year by opening up interview sessions earlier and filtering out applicants who are applying for a visa more than once.
Last year, a few applicants who had their student visas rejected for the first time were permitted to fill up the tens of thousands of interview slots. Some interview slots were also taken up by non-genuine applicants.
This year, however, applicants who have been rejected more than once or during the spring term will unlikely get a slot during the summer interview session or throughout the year.
According to an Open Doors Report, the US is home to 914,095 international students in 2020-21, a 15% drop from 1,075,496 in 2019-20.
Indian students comprised nearly 20% of the international student population with 167,582 students enrolled in various institutions in the 2020-21 academic year.