Indian students hopeful of traveling to the United States for higher education can finally see their plans take shape as the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India is working proactively to process and take in visa applications.
The U.S. Embassy states that since June 14, thousands of Indian students have already secured visa appointments for the months of July and August, and that thousands more appointments are available. The embassy will also open additional visa appointments in the coming weeks.
The U.S. Embassy has also given relief by extending the validity of the visa application processing fee, also known as the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee. Many visa applicants have paid the visa processing fee but are still waiting for the chance to schedule a visa appointment.
“We are working diligently to restore all routine visa operations as quickly and safely as possible,” assures the embassy, adding that it will extend the validity of the MRV fee until Sept. 30, 2022. This will give visa applicants who were unable to set an appointment because of the suspension of regular consular operations an opportunity to schedule and/or attend a visa appointment with the fee they already paid.
While international students with U.S. visas are exempt from travel from some countries, the travel ban against visitors from many countries is still applicable.
Notably, the U.S. Embassy had cancelled most of the immigrant and non-immigrant visa in-person appointments in India after the second wave of COVID-19 gripped the country starting in March.
The United States has always been one of the top study destinations for Indian students in the last few years. The number of Indian students studying in the United States touched a record 200,000 in the year 2018-19, an increase of 2.9 percent from the previous year. However, it dropped in 2019-2020 by 4.4 percent at over 193,000. The country is hopeful the numbers will pick up again.
In other measures to help students who wish to travel to the United States for higher studies, EducationUSA has organized several virtual sessions for undergraduate and graduate students and parents.
The daily and weekly sessions range from topics such as studying STEM in specialized and liberal arts colleges in the United States, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches in U.S. graduate studies, and programs in gender, LGBT, and sexuality studies in the United States. There are also “Ask an Adviser” sessions where attendees may pose questions about studying in the United States and applying to U.S. higher education institutions.