Home Breaking News U.S. Embassy in the UAE Accelerates Visa Appointments in Response to Increased Demand.

U.S. Embassy in the UAE Accelerates Visa Appointments in Response to Increased Demand.

The non-immigrant visa interviewing process faced constraints due to the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in a backlog.

by Jamsheera
US embassy in UAE

Amidst visa appointment delays extending up to a year, a diplomatic official has revealed efforts by the UAE mission to enhance the process. Ron Packowitz, the country consular coordinator, conveyed in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, “We are actively engaged in expanding and refining our operations to boost capacity and accelerate appointment scheduling.”

“There is a surge in demand for travel to the US following the pandemic, not only from the UAE but globally,” Packowitz remarked.

In a previous discussion with travel industry professionals in the UAE, Khaleej Times highlighted the extraordinary desire among UAE residents to journey to the US. The earliest available appointment date in Dubai is now October 18, 2024, while in Abu Dhabi, it is set for November 2024.

Pandemic Leads to Accumulation of Cases

The pandemic has resulted in a substantial backlog, explained Packowitz. The interviewing process for many non-immigrant visa candidates was restricted due to pandemic-related constraints, leading to delays. Packowitz stated, “By law, we are obligated to interview visa applicants. The pandemic and restrictions imposed by local governments prevented us from conducting interviews in our consular section. Despite these challenges, many applicants still aspire to travel to the US.”

He further noted, “Post-pandemic, the number of applications for non-immigrant visas has exceeded pre-pandemic levels. With the pandemic behind us, there is an overwhelming global interest in travel.”

Priority for some

The consular coordinator additionally noted that efforts are underway at the embassy to alleviate the backlog and expedite visa appointments, particularly for certain prioritized applicants.

“We give priority to visa interviews for specific travelers such as students, those facing medical emergencies, individuals with urgent business travel needs, and those with expired visas,” stated Packowitz.

He further explained, “For students heading to the US, we make every effort to ensure their arrival aligns with the first day of their classes. Business professionals with pressing travel requirements for crucial deals and individuals in need of urgent medical care also receive special attention.”

However, residents with visas largely expired in the last four years are exempt from consulate visits, and they can opt to receive their visas through Emirates Post, according to Packowitz.

Visa Appointments Anywhere

Packowitz emphasized that individuals can secure appointments for US visas in any country of their choosing, providing them the flexibility to apply wherever suits them best.

“Residents can choose to attend their interviews in any GCC country or their preferred location, depending on appointment availability,” added Packowitz.

Additional Daily Appointments

To streamline the process and expedite interviews for UAE residents, the embassy consistently adds extra appointments each day.

“We assess daily whether we can include additional appointments and do so periodically,” Packowitz explained. He suggested checking the official website regularly for the possibility of securing appointments much earlier than the scheduled date.

Plan a Year Ahead

Packowitz advised residents to plan their travel to the US at least a year in advance. “I recommend travelers plan well ahead. Those aware of upcoming travel should initiate the application process over a year in advance,” he said.

He stressed the importance of not finalizing irreversible plans until the visas are in hand, adding, “It is essential to exercise caution and wait until visas are obtained before making irreversible arrangements.”

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