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Updated on 02.05.2024

Waiting times for an interview appointment at the US consulate

It is advisable to apply for a visa for the US as early as possible. Especially before holidays, applicants should plan more buffer for the interview appointment. You should also bear in mind that the waiting times for entry into the US will increase if there is a high volume of travel.

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Schriftzug vom Consulate General of the United States

Requesting an interview appointment at the US consulate

For applicants between the ages of 14 and 79, the in-person interview is mandatory when applying for a US visa.

For some visa categories and certain applicants, there is a simplified application process thanks to the Interview Waiver Program, where the visa interview is not required and the application can be submitted by post instead.

As a rule, the visa interview takes place at a US consulate or US embassy in the country in which the applicant currently lives.
Under certain circumstances, it is also possible to complete a visa appointment in a consular section of another country (= Third Country Nationals). This can be interesting if there are long waiting times for available appointments in the current home country.

An appointment is made online via a personal visa profile, which is created on the website of the official visa appointment service provider of the respective country. Once the visa fee has been paid, the available interview dates at the US consulates / US embassies can be viewed and selected in a calendar.

When are visa appointments available at the US consulate?

The availability of visa interview appointments at US consulates and US embassies worldwide depends on several factors and may be subject to significant fluctuations. Depending on the

  • visa category,
  • location of US representation,
  • season and
  • the date of major sporting events

there are very different waiting times for a visa appointment.

During peak travel periods and before holidays – including US holidays and commemorative days in the applicant's home country – the waiting times for an interview appointment can be significantly longer. It is therefore always advisable to make an appointment as early as possible.

Popular travel times and holidays sometimes have a very different effect on the respective visa categories: In some cases the volume of student visas, visitor visas or work visas is high and the waiting times for a visa appointment are very long.

in times of regular opening, the waiting times for visa appointments vary at the US consulates and US embassy in Germany (Berlin, Frankfurt / Main, Munich), for example, from a few days to several weeks.

On average, waiting times for an appointment are around two to three weeks – under normal conditions.

Current appointment availability

Estimated and actual availabilities

The estimated visa appointment wait times for nonimmigrant visas can be found using an online tool on the official website of the U.S. Department of State (DOS).

Please note, however, that actual appointment availability can vary widely (depending on the visa category being applied for and the US consulate / US embassy). The information provided there does not always reflect the current daily schedule.

The only reliable option to check availability at the appropriate US consulate or US embassy in the given category is the appointment calendar in the applicant's online profile. Unfortunately, this is only possible after payment of the (non-refundable) visa application fee.

Longer waiting times for US visas

Very long waiting times for a visa appointment and the associated lengthy application process can have a deterrent effect on people who intend to travel to the USA.

In consular missions around the world, vacationers or business travelers (B-1 / B-2 visas), students (F-1 visas), participants in exchange programs (J-1 visas), but also people who urgently need a work visa for the USA are mainly affected.

Young people in particular who have received scholarships to study in the USA, for example, or exchange program participants starting their internship, are under massive pressure if no short-term visa appointments are available at the relevant US consulate or US embassy. Work visa applicants and their companies are also confronted with far-reaching delays due to a poor appointment situation, which are often accompanied by economic losses. Important business appointments or postings have to be postponed. Or the vacation trip that has already been booked fails due to the long wait for a free appointment for a visitor visa at the US consulate or US embassy.

Bild von einer Warteschlange in der US-Botschaft

People can therefore consider themselves lucky if they can travel visa-free with an ESTA authorization to the USA. Overall, the United States only allows citizens of around 40 countries worldwide to travel to the US for business or tourism purposes without a visa; all others must obtain a suitable US visa.

Measures taken by the US authorities

The measures taken so far to speed up the application process include

  • the waiver of interviews for low-risk applicants (= postal visa application under the Interview Waiver Program)
  • the relocation of US consular officers to countries with high backlogs and
  • the recruitment of additional consular staff.

While some countries are benefiting from new hires at US consulates and US embassies around the world, even these measures have not yet led to a significant improvement in the application situation at some consular posts.

The aim is still to minimize waiting times for visa interview appointments and to ensure rapid processing times for visa application procedures. This endeavor is not entirely altruistic, especially with regard to the rapid issuance of US work visas for skilled workers, who are also desperately needed in the USA. Of course, the aim is also to enable students to start their studies in good time or not to expose families to unnecessarily long separations.

Effects of major sporting events

In the summer of 2026, the FIFA World Cup will be hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada. The USA in particular is expecting numerous international visitors for this event. However, not all nationals worldwide can use the visa-free entry with ESTA, but require a visitor visa. The waiting times for B-1 / B-2 visa appointments are still up to 2 years in some countries.

Average waiting times for B-1 / B-2 visa appointments
Brasil 55 calendar days
Canada 807 calendar days
Colombia 649 calendar days
India 319 calendar days
Mexico 745 calendar days

(as of May 2024)

Representatives of the US travel industry and FIFA have expressed concerns to the U.S. State Department and the White House, as millions of US tourists are expected to visit during the five-week tournament in June and July 2026.

Visa wait times at the US embassy in Paris have also deteriorated dramatically, particularly for E visas and B visas. The earliest possible visa appointment for E-2 visas in Paris would currently be in January 2025, while waiting times for B visas are currently 519 days.

This is justified by the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics and the associated support for US citizens during this time.

Bild von einem Sportler in den USA

However, applying for P visas is also a major hurdle for athletes. At the 2022 World Championships in Athletics in Eugene, Oregon, some athletes experienced problems and delays in the visa application process due to long waiting and processing times in the consular departments.

The Olympic Games are due to take place in Los Angeles in July 2028, so it is to be hoped that the visa situation in the critical countries will have fundamentally improved by then for everyone involved.

Further financial resources

For many major events, delays in visa processing at US consular missions can result in significant economic damage to the United States. The formula is quite simple: If foreign travelers do not receive their US visas on time, they cannot attend or visit the respective events.

To ensure that sufficient visa appointments are available before the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the USA and elsewhere, the US government has provided additional funding to the U.S. State Department.

In March 2024, the US government passed a law making an additional 50 million US dollars for the US consulates and US embassies.

Bild vom US-Konsulat

The U.S. Travel Association welcomed this step and is also urging the US congress to take further important measures such as the Visa Processing Improvement Act (S.2632) to modernize the entire visa process (also in view of the 2028 Summer Olympics in LA).

Accelerated processing by emergency appointment

If urgent, an expedited interview appointment or emergency appointment may be requested at the US consulate or US embassy.

To be able to make an emergency appointment request, a regular visa appointment must first be arranged via the online profile.

In order to be eligible for expedited visa processing, visa applicants must prove the necessity of the expedited interview appointment by providing supporting documents in case of doubt. Possible reasons for an accelerated appointment include, but are not limited to

  • medical treatment (e.g., for urgent medical care),
  • attendance at a funeral or
  • urgent, unforeseen business trips,
  • but also the refusal of an ESTA authorization.

An emergency appointment request can only be made once. This is usually done via the online profile and the "Emergency Request" navigation button there. If an earlier appointment is agreed but you do not show up, there is no option to submit another emergency request.

As emergency appointments can also be allocated at short notice, it is advisable to submit the request as soon as all visa application documents are available.

Please note that emergency appointment requests are usually examined very critically and often rejected. This applies in particular to people who wish to travel urgently for business or for vacation.

Attention:

If the emergency appointment is granted and the consular officers determine during the interview that you misrepresented the need for urgent US travel, this may have a negative impact on the outcome of the visa application. Approval of an emergency appointment is not the same as automatic visa approval.

Waiting times for the delivery of the passport

After your visa interview appointment, please also be prepared for varying delivery times depending on the time of year and volume of applications.

How you can get your passport back after an interview appointment varies from country to Country or from the US missions there. The following applies to all countries: It is not possible to obtain a "same day" visa, i.e. to take your passport and the US visa it contains directly with you.

After the visa appointment at the German US consulates, the passport will be delivered by post to a pick-up station or delivery address of your choice. Depending on the volume of visa apllications, this may take more or less time. The waiting times for the delivery of passports including visas can therefore vary from a few days to 2 weeks. Delivery or collection at a pick-up station cannot be accelerated.

In our experience, there is hardly any difference in time between postal delivery to a designated pick-up location or to a delivery address. You can select how you would like to receive your passport back in your online profile.

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Our recommendation

It is advisable to apply for a visa for the USA as early as possible. Especially before public holidays and vacation periods, applicants should allow more time to schedule an interview appointment.

Although applicants can use the postal submission procedure for certain visa categories or visa extensions to avoid the otherwise mandatory interview appointment, travelers should also be prepared for longer processing times. In the DACH region, these are currently around 2 to 4 weeks until the visa is actually granted after the documents have been sent to the US consulate. With increasing access rates to the Interview Waiver Program, longer waiting times are foreseeable.

We therefore recommend the following:

  • Check in advance whether you can use the postal submission procedure and submit the documents in good time before your planned entry.
  • Always check your visa profile to see if there are any available or earlier interview dates for the desired visa category if you urgently need an earlier appointment or if it has not yet been possible to arrange one. Earlier visa appointments may become available for instance due to appointment cancelations.
  • In urgent (emergency) cases, apply for an emergency appointment via the online profile.
  • Check whether earlier appointments may be available at the US consulate in another country that is easily accessible for you (Note: as a "third country national", you may have to expect longer waiting times for appointments there).
  • Check the website of the US embassy and US consulates in your home country for the current processing status.

Soccer fans who would like to cheer on their country at the 2026 World Cup in the USA and are not covered by the Visa Waiver Program should apply for their US visa now (despite the unknown field of participants) if they live in a country that continues to have extremely long B visa appointment waiting times.

If you entrust us with the visa processing, our US Visa Service team will of course take care of the coordination and timely arrangement of the visa appointment at the US consulate or US embassy and ensure that the application process runs as smoothly as possible.

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Date:

Updated on 02.05.2024