Most important document to visit a country, other than passport, is Visa that basically determines traveler’s eligibility to enter in that country. With latest U.S. travel restrictions due to COVID, embassies in India are not processing new visa requests till December 31, 2020. Those without visa are now stuck in India and many families are impacted due to this.
Question is why am I talking about this ? Let me give some context – I am working as Software Professional in U.S. on H1B work visa and my spouse in on H4 dependent visa which is kind of family visa. She went to India last October before this COVID madness and I planned to join her after few months. Our Visa got expired in 2018, means stamping is required in order to re-enter U.S. from India.
I traveled India this March for stamping purpose and to celebrate our wedding anniversary. She had scheduled visa appointments prior to my arrival and even completed her bio-metrics interview. We thought of getting same date for F2F interview for both of us, so she cancelled her interview in order to match my date. That proved to be a wrong decision as she didn’t get same date. My visa got approved, and just after 2 days, embassy got closed due to COVID lock-down. So basically her interview got cancelled automatically by embassy and now she was without visa.
Due to all this, she couldn’t accompany me on my return to U.S. on Aug 8. Long separation was taking a toll on us and to wait till December was just worse. We searched for best available options and after some research got the solution of our problem – Emergency Visa.
Emergency visa is assigned in case of any emergency be it medical , related to any death, pregnancy, or family separation. One has to present very strong case to get the request approved.
Regular appointments – Only thing needed for emergency visa is to have regular appointments scheduled. One has to first select the available dates for both Bio-metric and F2F interviews before even thinking about emergency option.
Steps for Regular Visa :-
- DS-160 form – Form needs to be filled and submitted, confirmation page must be saved.
- Fee submission – 190 $ must paid to recipient account mentioned in portal. Once received, it will reflect on the portal.
- Appointment schedule – There will be 2 appointments, first for Biometric and second for Face-to-Face interview (Both can’t be scheduled for same date). From the website, available dates can be chosen for both the interview. For now all available dates are in 2021.
Portal Links :-
- DS-160 :- https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/
- Visa appointment :- https://cgifederal.secure.force.com/applicanthome
Once above steps are complete and regular appointments are scheduled, Emergency Request option will appear on the dashboard.
Our payment and everything was already in place as she had given bio-metrics earlier, so we just needed to select new dates and look for Emergency Visa option. We selected available dates of Feb 2021 and applied for emergency request. Applicant has to select Purpose of Travel, fill the reason for emergency request and need to upload the supporting documents for his claim. We selected “Medical Needs” as the purpose and reason for emergency was “depression and constant mood swings due to separation which is impacting my family”. Reason itself was clear enough, so we didn’t uploaded anything for it.
Emergency Form Fields :-
- Purpose of Travel
- Reason for Emergency Request
- Supporting Documents
Post submission of request, page gave some technical error and emergency visa option also vanished from the dashboard. Now there was no way to know what happened with the request other than waiting for some communication from USCIS or to call them. We waited 🙂
Request was submitted on Aug 13 and we didn’t receive any mail regarding approval or denial till Aug 24, when we were notified about the approval through email. Bingo !
Now next step was to select the new available dates on the portal (post approval, earlier dates become available ). Dates were selected for both interviews for 28 Aug and 4 Sep respectively.
Don’t want to make this post lengthy by including interview experiences. That part will look better in separate post. Hope you find it useful. Would love to hear back.
Happy Reading !