COVID-19 impact on the F-1 Visa application process
Updates on the F-1 Visa application process in India as of May 2022.
Are you applying for the F-1 Visa in India? Here are the latest updates to the F-1 Visa application process in India that you must be aware of.
December 2021 Proclamation
COVID-19 has affected visa appointment availability across VAC locations as well as US Embassy and Consulates in India. Per the U.S Department of State announcement on December 23rd, 2021 on the travel.state.gov website, certain students seeking the F-1 Visa are eligible for visa interview waivers with the US Embassy or Consulate.
If you are applying for the F-1 Visa for the first-time and you previously held any US visa (tourist visa included), you will be eligible for a dropbox appointment in India. Click here to learn more about F-1 Visa Dropbox Appointments in India.
Note: It varies case by case, but some first-time F-1 Visa seekers who were previously issued other US visas before 14 years of age may be requested by the US Embassy or Consulate to visit a VAC location in India to submit their biometrics information.
For example, if you previously held a US visa that was issued to you before you were 14 years of age, you will still be eligible to book a dropbox appointment in India. If the US Embassy or Consulate does not have a recent record of your biometric information (fingerprints and/or picture), they may return your passport (after you have submitted your documents through your original dropbox appointment) along with a green slip, asking you to visit a Visa Application Center (VAC) or Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) for a biometrics appointment and resubmit your passport.
Note that this doubles the processing time for your F-1 Visa application as the US Embassy or Consulate may take up to 2 weeks to return your passport along with the green slip once you’ve submitted your documents via your regular dropbox appointment. Then, it can take up to 2 additional weeks after your biometrics appointment to return your passport with a F-1 Visa stamp.
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Submission of Interview Waiver application
Per USTravelDocs India’s update that went into effect as of April 4th, 2022, students seeking the F-1 Visa with dropbox appointments are allowed to submit their F-1 Visa application documents to any VAC location across India, regardless of the VAC location they chose for the dropbox appointment.
For example, if you booked a dropbox appointment for the Mumbai VAC location, you can submit your visa application application documents to any of the 11 VAC locations across India (on the date and time as mentioned on your appointment confirmation letter).
Click here to view a full list of documents that you must submit to a Visa Application Center (VAC location) in India for your F-1 Visa Dropbox Appointment.
Note: Per the USTravelDocs India update, you are allowed to submit your visa application documents for free to either of the following 5 VAC locations:
If you submit your visa application documents to any of the remaining 6 VAC locations in India, you will be required to pay a nominal fee of INR 650 when you are submitting your documents. Click here to view more details about all VAC locations in India.
F-1 Visa Fees - Validity Extension and Change in Currency Rate
As a result of the suspension of routine consular operations due to COVID-19 in early 2020 and the US Department of State’s ongoing efforts to restore all routine visa operations as quickly and safely as possible, the Department has temporarily extended the validity of visa application fees until September 30th, 2023. If you have not scheduled a visa appointment by that date, your fee will expire and you will forfeit the right to apply the fee towards your visa application.
The Consular Exchange Rate will be changing on May 20th, 2022. Before submitting your fee payment, please verify that the visa fee on your deposit slip matches the current Consular Exchange Rate listed here. The current Consular Exchange Rate is 78 INR = 1 USD (the $160 F-1 Visa fee = INR 12,480).