Traveling for tourism or business to the United States will take an average of three years for those who are just thinking about applying for their visa. This was announced by the Embassy of that country in Colombia after assuring that “hundreds of thousands of people” are trying to carry out the process and that, given the impossibility of serving the entire population, interview appointments for this type of visa will be enabled automatically. new in 2024.
With that news, the two most common types of documents to visit the United States will not be available to the majority of the population for at least the next two years. However, there will be exceptions when it comes to emergencies and humanitarian matters that do not wait.
The delays of the Embassy date from the administrative brakes that the confinements generated. In fact, official data records a significant drop in the number of visas approved before and after the pandemic. While 217,329 visas were issued in 2019, less than half were issued in 2020 (97,238) and 2021 (54,452).
Despite this green light to start scheduling interviews, the entity detailed changes in visa renewals and in the requirements for some of the applicants.
EL COLOMBIANO looked for the five key points to understand those modifications that depend on factors such as age and the reason for the trip.
1. VISAS WITHOUT INTERVIEWS FOR RENEWALS
The most representative change is in the fact that hundreds of Colombians will be able to access certain types of visas without an interview.
But that benefit only applies to very specific cases. For now, three types of applicants are estimated: those who want to renew the visa that had already been approved at another time in their lives, those who are under 14 years of age and those who are over 79 years of age.
All of them will be able to access a form on the co.usembassy.gov website and wait for the algorithm to tell them if they can continue with the process without the need for an interview or if, in any case, they must go to the Embassy located in Bogotá to answer questions from officials.
In the specific case of those who want to renew their visa, Colombians must fill out the web form and wait if they require an interview or not. If not, you will be summoned to take your passport and wait for the renewal procedure.
In this way, as announced by the Embassy, shipments of passports by the courier company DHL will be eliminated.
2. THERE IS PRIORITY APPOINTMENT FOR STUDENTS
According to the United States Embassy, hundreds of citizens residing in Colombia have been applying for student or university exchange visas, so it will prioritize that population that may miss important courses or scholarships due to long waits to obtain the document that allows them to enter. .
For any student who has to certify that they will take a degree in that country, interview appointments will begin to be enabled from May and could take between 4 or 5 weeks.
“That time is still high. We know. But we are working every day to speed up the procedures”, argued the Deputy Head of Visas for Non-Migrants.
3. APPOINTMENTS FOR TOURISM AND BUSINESS VISAS WILL BE ENABLED IN 2022
According to the entity, an average of 1,000 people a day tried to access the procedure to obtain the B1 and B2 visas, corresponding to tourist and business visas. Since they are the most requested, the quotas are full until 2024 and, therefore, new applicants must wait until that year.
However, the Deputy Chief of Visas said that new spaces may be opened between 2022 and 2024 by new officials or the cancellation of appointments that were already assigned. “For this reason, it is important to be in constant review of the web page.”
4. THE UNITED STATES SAYS TO AVOID PROCESSORS
US government officials are clear in warning that there is no authorized intermediary to facilitate, mediate or help citizens to carry out any of the steps.
Thus, the procedures of requesting appointments, filling out forms, attending the Embassy and doing the interview, among others, must be carried out “solely and exclusively” by the applicants.
Otherwise, citizens could incur criminal offenses and, in addition, “come out disadvantaged in the visa process, since people who offer this type of service sometimes commit fraud and negatively affect the request of the person who wants to obtain the document ”, said the Embassy official.
5. PRICE REMAINS AT $160 FOR THIS YEAR
Another important point is that each visa has a stipulated price that depends on the type of permit and the time of validity. For tourist and business visas, which are the most common, the price of this 2022 is 160 dollars.
Likewise, the Embassy reminded that those who want to renew their visa before it expires can do so without any time limit. “Even, it is good to request it two years in advance so as not to miss important trips to the United States due to expiration of the document.”
As for emergencies, the entity recommended requesting this type of appointment only when serious situations have occurred that do not wait. They apply for those cases, for example, the death of a family member, the need for medical treatment or the urgency of a student who must travel to that country in less than a month.