US-bound students in India may get F-1, M-1 visa applications a year in advance; here's how

US-bound students in India may get F-1, M-1 visa applications a year in advance; here's how

The change is significant because students were able to attain the F-1 visa 120 days before the exam while getting the i-20 form up to six months before, earlier.

FPJ Education DeskUpdated: Friday, February 24, 2023, 05:55 PM IST
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New Delhi: To cut down on the country's visa processing time, the United States state department has added a new clause that will allow students to obtain an i-20 form for F-1 or M-1 visas, upto 365 days before their University programme starts in the US.

The announcement is yet to be updated on the Department of Homeland Security's website, with the students not being permitted to enter within 30 days of the beginning of their courses.

The change is significant considering the fact that students were able to attain the F-1 visa 120 days before the exam while getting the i-20 form up to six months before.

"F and M student visas can now be issued up to 365 days in advance of the I-20 program start date, allowing more time for students to apply for a visa. Students are still not allowed to enter the U.S. on a student visa more than 30 days before their program start date," said the tweet by State Department.

US taking steps to address visa backlog issues

The US has been facing severe backlog issues with visas, including tourist, business, and student, with major cities in India facing the brunt of the issue.

According to numbers released by the state department in 2022, visa wait time at the US Consulate in New Delhi is 471 days for student Visas, 10 days in Mumbai, 479 days in Hyderabad, two days in Kolkata, and eight days in Chennai.

Though the backlogs have improved, with a 36% rise in visa processing across the country after the COVID-19 pandemic, lakhs of applicants still await an answer to their visa status, something that is being addressed by the US by opening more slots in foreign countries and increasing their staff.

USCIS announces relief for F-1 students

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has also provided a clarification on employment authorization validity for F-1 students facing economic issues.

“[In this case], we may grant off-campus (Special Student Relief) SSR employment authorisation to an F01 nonimmigrant student for the duration of the Federal Register notice validity period,” said the notification by USCIS. The duration now is 18 months, 6 months more compared to the previous authorisation of a year.

The extension won't be extended past the end date of a student's programme, according to USCIS.

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