What to Do When Your Student Visa Approval is Delayed

by Jennifer Calonia | In Guides and Tools, Immigration Assistance and Information | 1 March 2023 | Updated on: June 5th, 2023

Before stepping foot onto your college or university’s campus for the first day of class, international students must secure a valid U.S. student visa. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this proved difficult since many overseas consulates remained closed or were not issuing visas to students. 

In late 2022, the U.S. Department of State announced that 96 percent of embassies and consulates abroad are resuming regular U.S. visa services. But now, applicants are facing stressful delays with U.S. student visa processing times. Here’s what to know about the U.S. study visa delay and what to do if this happens to you.

Standard U.S. Student Visa Processing Time

The usual processing time for a U.S. student visa is different for each embassy or consulate. U.S. student visa processing time depends on the availability of visa services and if they’re in high demand in your originating country.

For example, the current in-person appointment wait time for F-1 visa student applicants in Mumbai is 84 calendar days. In Paris, the wait time for an interview is four calendar days, while it’s 13 calendar days in Beijing, China.

The expected wait time in your country might be different, and the estimated wait times don’t include administrative processing. Always check the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for your area in advance.

Top Reasons Your F-1 Study Visa Might be Delayed

Below are a few of the common reasons why your student visa approval is delayed. 

Security Clearances

U.S. student visa applications might undergo multiple security checks. Details like your country of birth, nationality, or even having a common name might cause your application to be flagged for additional security clearance. 

Students who are studying in certain academic fields, like a science-based field, might also be flagged for further security checks.

Embassy or Consulate Closures

Aside from going through the appropriate security checks for a student visa, local events in your area can impact how quickly routine visa services are processed.

For example, a COVID-19 outbreak, inclement weather, or civil unrest in the area might raise safety and security concerns. In this situation, the U.S. Embassy might be closed indefinitely. You can check the operating status of U.S. Embassies and Consulates on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

High U.S. Student Visa Application Volumes

If your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate has resumed regular visa services and you’ve submitted all of the forms needed, you might simply experience delays because of an administrative backlog. 

The U.S. Department of State noted that for the 2021-22 academic year, it issued more student visas than any prior year since 2016. This shows the high demand for a U.S. study visa, and why you should expect longer than usual processing times.

Visa processing only recently became accessible again in the last couple of years following the pandemic. There might not be sufficient staffing to support the number of applications. However, the State Department has tried easing the strain by introducing solutions, like the in-person interview waiver for some students.  

At InternationalStudent.com you might also find some helpful tips around gaining your student visa, including the interview process

What to Do When Your Student Visa Approval is Delayed

If your student visa to study in the U.S. is delayed, consider taking the following steps while you actively work on addressing your visa issues.

  1. Contact your school immediately. If your academic session is nearing and your U.S. study visa hasn’t been successfully issued yet, speak to your school’s international student affairs office. The school can’t necessarily rush your visa processing wait time for you, but it can educate you about your options in the worst-case situation. 
  2. See if you can waive the in-person interview. Some U.S. Embassies, like in Thailand, offer waivers for the in-person interview on a case-by-case basis. If you’re applying for a student visa, you must prove that you’ll miss the start of your class session if an expedited interview request isn’t granted. This step can help you expedite your student visa processing time if approved. 
  3. Request a later enrollment start date. In the worst-case scenario, you might not secure your student visa before the start of classes at your U.S. school. If this is your situation, contact your school to see if you can defer your enrollment to the next term or the following academic year, or take an official leave of absence. Although this isn’t ideal, it can give you more time to get your visa, without reapplying to the school.

The Bottom Line

Not everyone will experience a U.S. study visa delay, however, it’s increasingly common. If your local U.S. embassy or consulate is experiencing high student visa application volumes it might be catching up to backed-up demand due to COVID-19 and other closures.  

The best action you can take is to apply for your U.S. study visa earlier than later to accommodate processing delays. Even then, it’s wise to have a backup plan – like inquiring about taking a leave of absence or other options – if your student visa is delayed.


What should I do if my student visa is delayed?

If you experience a U.S. study visa delay, the first step is to contact your school’s department of international student affairs. Inform them about your visa’s processing status, and ask about your options if you can’t get your F-visa approved before classes begin. 

How long does it take for a student visa to be approved?

The U.S. student visa processing time is different, depending on your unique situation and how busy the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is in your home area. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs has a tool that lets you see the estimated wait time for a student visa appointment.

How can I speed up my visa approval?

There is no way to make the U.S. study visa processing times go faster. Your school also doesn’t have the ability to expedite the wait time. Your best option is to complete your online nonimmigrant visa application (form DS-160) accurately as soon as allowed and give yourself as much time as possible to perform the interview appointment. 


Author: View all post by Jennifer Calonia

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