Applicants should be prepared for varying wait times for an interview at the U.S. consulate, depending on the visa category, the location of the consulate, and the season. The following explains the circumstances that may cause delays in scheduling a visa interview and how the COVID-19 pandemic affects the current scheduling situation.
For applicants between the ages of 14 and 79, the interview appointment is mandatory for visa applications (exception: Visa Reissuance Program). As a rule, the visa interview takes place in the country where the applicant currently lives.
An appointment is made online via a visa profile. After payment of the visa fee, the available appointments at the U.S. consulates can be viewed and selected in a calendar.
The availability of visa interview appointments at U.S. consulates worldwide depends on several factors and can be subject to significant fluctuations in some cases. During peak travel periods and before holidays, including U.S. holidays and holidays in the applicant's home country, the wait for an interview appointment may be significantly longer. It is therefore always advisable to make an appointment as early as possible.
Popular travel times and public holidays can have very different effects on the respective visa categories: Sometimes it is student visas, sometimes visitor visas, or work visas for which the volume is high and the waiting times for an interview appointment are very long.
In times of regular opening, the waiting times for an interview at the U.S. consulates in Germany (Berlin, Frankfurt / Main, Munich), for example, vary from a few days to several weeks. On average, waiting times for an appointment are around two to three weeks – under normal conditions.
Estimated visa interview wait times for nonimmigrant visas (Visa Appointment Wait Times) can be accessed through an online tool on the official U.S. Department of State (DOS) website. Currently, according to this query, many countries still offer emergency appointments or interview appointments are not available to be booked again for 999 calendar days, in which case this equates to no appointments being available and only emergency cases being processed. However, the vast majority of U.S. consulates worldwide have resumed regular visa issuance, but in some cases with extremely long wait times for an appointment.
Please note, however, that actual appointment availability can vary widely (depending on the visa category being applied for and the U.S. consulate).
The only reliable option to check availability at the respective U.S. consulate in the respective category is the appointment calendar in the applicant's online profile.
Interview scheduling at U.S. emmbassies and U.S. consulates around the world has become increasingly tight since the start of the Corona crisis. This has been due to temporary closures or restrictions on visa services, public access and staff reductions.
The extent of the visa interview backlog varies depending on each country's COVID protection protocols, pandemic events on the ground, and local conditions and restrictions since the outbreak of the Corona crisis.
In the wake of recently announced changes to U.S. travel restrictions beginning November 8, 2021, U.S. embassies and consulates have released additional visa appointments for all visa categories.
In the German U.S. consulates (Frankfurt/Main, Berlin, Munich), almost all interview appointments for the coming weeks, no matter for which visa category, are already completely sold out due to the great rush as well as the tense staff situation and, of course, also due to the pandemic. For many categories, dates are not available again until mid-May or June 2022 (as of 01 February 2022).
The following categories are currently particularly affected:
B-1/B-2 visas for business travelers/tourists, E-1/E-2 work visas as well as other work visas of category H, L or O etc.. But also for I-, F- or J-visas there are currently only a few appointments available, with sometimes weeks of waiting time.
Please note: The appointment situation in the individual US consulates worldwide changes almost daily. It is therefore conceivable that additional earlier appointments will be made available at certain consulates, but it is also possible that waiting times will continue to deteriorate.
The postal submission procedure for certain visa categories or visa extensions allows applicants to avoid the otherwise obligatory interview, but at the same time travelers should be prepared for longer processing times. These are currently around 2-4 weeks until the actual visa receipt after sending the documents to the U.S. consulate. With the increasing access rate to this procedure, longer waiting times are also foreseeable here.
We therefore recommend the following:
If there is an urgent need, you can request an expedited interview appointment. Even during the pandemic, there are emergency appointments for urgent U.S. travel. However, it is mandatory that a regular appointment be made first. Only then is an emergency appointment request even possible.
Possible reasons for an expedited appointment include, but are not limited to
To be eligible for expedited visa processing, visa applicants must demonstrate the need for the expedited interview appointment (e.g., by providing supporting documentation). Please note that emergency appointment requests are usually examined very critically and are often rejected. This is especially true for individuals who have urgent business travel needs.
An emergency appointment request can only be made once. This is usually done via the online profile and the navigation button "Emergency Request". If an earlier appointment is granted and the appointment is not kept, there is no possibility to make 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.
After your visa interview appointment, please also be prepared for varying lengths of time for delivery depending on the time of year and volume of applications.
Passport delivery is handled by UPS after the interview appointment at the German U.S. consulates and depending on the volume of orders, this may take a little longer. The waiting times for the delivery of passports including visa can therefore vary between a few days and up to two weeks.
In-person pickup at designated locations is also possible, but does not necessarily expedite the application process.
It is advisable to apply for a visa for the U.S. 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 U.S. will increase if there is a high volume of travel.
With successive vaccination progress, there is hope that the threat of the pandemic will abate and global travel can resume in full. In the meantime, foreign nationals must come to terms with the fact that visa dates are limited and plan accordingly.
Of course, if you hire us to handle your visa, our US Visa Team will take care of coordinating and arranging your interview appointment at the U.S. consulate in a timely manner.
Updated on 9.2.2022