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Changes in US Student Visa Policy from Jan’22

Mar 01, 2022

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US government has brought in some changes in the US Visa policies with an aim to reduce the visa application processing time. The in-person visa interviews may also get waived off in certain conditions proving to be greatly beneficial for international students. So, if you are planning on pursuing higher education in the US then this is the right time. Let’s take a look at the visa policy changes in detail and understand how this is going to be beneficial to study abroad.


1. More Freedom to US Consular Officers in granting Student Visa Applications 

The first change with a positive impact is a new directive for U.S. Consulates allowing the Consular officers a little more flexibility on accepting or denying student visa applications. As per the new directive a student’s visa application will be judged based on present circumstances rather than his/her future intentions. This will increase the possibility of higher student visa acceptance rates. Earlier the consular officers would review a student’s residency requirement. to determine the student’s ties to his/her home country. They would do so based on the student’s marital status, ownership of property, and the job opportunities present in student’s home country. This was done to determine whether the student wants to leave the US after completing the education or plans on staying for better job opportunities. 

Before the pandemic, around 25% of student visa applications were denied. 9 out of 10 non-immigrant applications were denied due to the consulate’s judgment of the applicant’s intent. 

But with the latest changes in the US Visa Policies and the consular officers having more latitude to determine the student’s intention for going to the US. This will lead to fewer rejections of student visas proving to be greatly beneficial for those looking to study in USA


2. In-person Interview Waiver 

The new visa policies also allow the consular officers to waive off in-person interviews for certain students, professors, research and short-term scholars, or specialists (F, M, and academic J visa applicants) through the end of 2022. 

As per the U.S. Visas News 

‘Like the policy for certain individual petition-based visa applicants, consular officers have discretion to waive the interview for F, M, and academic J visa applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, and who have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived, and who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility; or first-time F, M, and academic J visa applicants who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in VWP and who have previously travelled to the United States via an ESTA authorization, provided they have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.’ 

These applicants are not necessarily required to visit the consular for an in-person interview. However, this will depend on case-to-case basis as well as the country conditions. This policy is only applicable for the year 2022 as per the latest updates. It may or may not continue in the coming years. 

If you need to know whether you are eligible for the waiver you need to check with the embassy or visit the consulate website for more detailed information in this regard. You can also learn about the current operating status and services through the US govt. website. 


3. Hike in Visa Application Fees 

With the proposal made by the state department, students need to pay an increased visa processing fee. A hike of 53% can be expected in the visa processing fees as per the new policy. 

Any comment from the public is being accepted by the officials till 28th February 2022. 

The US department of state has made these major changes with the aim to process a great volume of visa applications and eliminate visa backlogs created as a result of the pandemic. It is however not specified for how long these policies are applicable and it is highly likely that there will be more changes in the coming year. 

So, if you want to make the most of these upcoming changes this is the right time to consult KC’s US Country Experts and get complete details to know more about the USA study visa.

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