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How the U.S. Visa Online Appointment Works

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The visa appointment calendar screen

The visa appointment calendar screen

The most annoying thing about the U.S. visa system when you are trying to schedule an interview for a visa, is its online system. Less savvy people will get lost or become frustrated

To obtain any visa, one must file the paperwork online through their website. Make sure you locate the U.S. embassy in the country where you are applying from. You cannot apply for a U.S. visa from the USA because you must go through the US embassy within the foreign country. For instance, a person seeking a visitor visa (non-immigrant) or an immigrant visa (to permanently stay), one must apply via the website. If you are in the Philippines, you would apply via the U.S. embassy in Manila but through the website. You would pay the fees, fill out the form online, etc. There are some exceptions where you can apply for a visa from the USA for relatives if you are US citizen or Green card holders. If you are not Green card holder or USC, you cannot apply for some visa types unless you have a US sponsor. But you will need to verify if you can before starting the visa process.

While there are many types of visas (which is not the purpose of this article), all end up in the same place on the US Travel docs website to begin the process. Once all the forms are filled out, payments, and you have created a login, you may or may not be shown a Scheduling screen showing calendars with dates showing available interview dates at that US embassy. If you have had to reschedule or cancel an appointment for interview, who have seen this screen at least once, which appears at the very end of other verification screens previously filled out.

Once your visa paperwork has been approved with the needed information (this can take some time also), you will be able to login into the website and select a link for Scheduling an interview appointment for visa approval. You must create this online account, however, to gain access.

How the Visa Calendar Works

Those needing an appointment for an interview are frequently dismayed at the calendar. If the calendar does not appear, there are no appointments at this time. You may also get a message. If the calendar appears, available highlighted boxes appear for choosing.

You can check every day for appointments, and nothing is available. You can do this all month to no avail. It is very frustrating as it can happen for a long time.

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The Secret

The embassy allocates just so many visa interviews per month. Covid has made it even less than before due to staff and the types of visa allowed. Any IR (Immediate Relative) type has priority over all other visa types because a USC has made the petition for a wife, child etc. For instance, in the Philippines, IR type visa interviews happen only for 8 days\month. Each day about 16 interviews occur for this type of visa. Most of the time, these interviews happen on the 7th, 8th, 13th, 14th, 21st, 22nd, 27th, 28th.

However, to get one of these dates, knowing when to look online at the calendar is critical. The best time to login and get to scheduling calendar is the first two days of the month. The schedules are set one month in advance. So, if it is May 1, the appointment you make will be for June 7th or one of the other available dates. Usually, only slots for the next month are available, so in the example, there would be no slots available in July. These would be available June 1 or 2.

It is important to check a few times a week just to make sure the local embassy in the country has not either opened more interview dates or reduced them. The embassy can add more dates anytime it needs to not just those noted here. So keep checking and do not be dismayed in obtaining a visa interview date, especially if when you check is not the first few dates of each month.


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