Securing a viable visa interview date in your home country can sometimes prove to be a daunting task. In light of the Covid-19 backlog, it is not surprising to see visa interview wait times stretching up to one year away.
For African students intending to enroll in school soon, waiting for a year to attend a visa interview is not practical. If you are facing these challenges, it is worth looking for more tenable appointment dates in countries close to your home country. Below is a concise guide on how to go about this process.
Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with the Policy
The U.S. State Department allows processing non-immigrant visa applications at any U.S. embassy or consulate worldwide. While home country application is generally preferred, circumstantial constraints – such as absence of viable appointment dates or conflict – might make a neighboring country a practical choice.
Step 2: Research Thoroughly
Explore the U.S. embassies or consulates in countries nearby. Balance factors such as travel distance, current advisories, safety conditions, and language considerations. For instance, if you are in Mali and appointments are elusive, consider the U.S. Embassies in Ghana or Côte d’Ivoire. Use the free U.S. government tool to compare visa appointment wait times.
Step 3: Book Your Appointment
Once you’ve found a promising embassy or consulate, schedule your visa interview. Make sure to explain why you’re applying from an alternate location, emphasizing the challenges with securing an appointment at your home country in a timely manner.
Step 4: Prepare for Your Interview
Get ready for your visa interview. Be prepared to justify your decision to apply from a neighboring country and ensure your paperwork is in order, including your I-20 form, proof of SEVIS fee payment, academic records, and financial support documentation.
Step 5: Plan Your Trip
Organize your travel and accommodation, adhering to all relevant travel advisories. A familiarity with your chosen application country will make your journey smoother.
Step 6: Be Confident in Your Interview
Go into your visa interview with confidence. Be open about your reasons for applying from a different country. Consular officers are aware of the long wait times in certain locations, so being candid about your situation is key.
Step 7: Stay Updated
After your interview, keep track of your visa application status. If approved, your visa will either be mailed to a specified address or picked up from a designated location.
Remember, applying in a neighboring country is a last resort strategy that should be pursued with careful consideration and thorough planning. If you follow the steps above, you’ll be well-prepared to steer this course successfully and getting closer to your U.S. educational aspirations.