Mumbai: US bound students unable to book visa slots as website crashes

After the student visa appointment slots were opened by the United States of America (US) embassy in India on Monday, many students were unable to book the slots as the website crashed within an hour of its opening. Although some students, who need to travel to the US before their academic programs begin in August, managed to book an appointment slot for July, many were locked out of the system for 72 hours due to multiple attempts.

On Monday, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs of the US Embassy in India Donald Heflin had announced on his Facebook Live that bulk slots were opened across the US visa issuing offices at New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata at 9am. But by 10-10.30am, the website crashed and the students were unable to book a slot.

Aleesha George, a student from Kerala, said, “I tried booking a visa appointment slot but the site crashed. When I tried refreshing the website, I got locked out of the system automatically after multiple attempts. Now, my account has been frozen for 72 hours and I am unable to do anything. My program's start date is on August 26.”

Students have requested the US embassy to reduce the freezing period of 72 hours and open additional slots.

Sankeerth Nirmala, a student from Hyderabad, said, “I cannot book the slots even if they open tomorrow because my account has been locked for three days. Can the US embassy reduce the 72 hours account freezing period because three days is a long duration?”

Some students were able to book slots after refreshing the website multiple times.

Alekya Kastury, a student from Chennai, said, “I refreshed the website a couple of times and finally managed to book my slot after trying for four hours." Another student from Bangalore said, "I was trying to book a slot since 9 am but finally managed to book one at 5pm.”

Meanwhile, the Indian US embassy put out a tweet stating, “We are aware of the high demand for student visa appointments. Please remember, do not refresh too often, as you may be locked out of your account. Appointments remain available at all posts, and we will continue to add appointments as conditions allow.”

A senior official of the US Consulate General in Mumbai said, “Students who have been locked out for 72 hours will have to wait to book their slots. We will continue to add appointments.”

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