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Immigration Law

Visa Interview Wait Times Reach New Highs: 247 Days for Visitors/​Business Travelers

David J. Bier, July 19, 2022

"As the State Department finally reopens U.S. consulates for non‐​emergency visa interviews, wait times have grown significantly. Interviews for both immigrant and nonimmigrant (i.e. temporary) applicants are extraordinarily delayed. The latest data from U.S. consulates abroad show that some visa interviews can routinely take over a year, and a majority of consulates now take over six months to schedule a tourist or business traveler. ... As I explained in my paper on the effects of 9/11 on the immigration system, the visa delays after 9/11 caused a major shift in foreign direct investment. The Commerce Department explained that the “presence or perception of delays in obtaining the necessary visas can give an international investor the impression that it may be difficult to finalize or oversee an investment in the United States.” Even delays of a few days can matter. The State Department is failing to fulfill its responsibilities under immigration law. The huge wait times are distorting the U.S. economy, its labor market, and international investment. They are harming U.S. businesses who need consumers and workers. They are keeping Americans and immigrants from being able to visit with their families. It is an embarrassment to our country, and it is completely unacceptable. Congress should investigate this failing department and require it to process visas in accordance with the law."