On Thursday, October 13, a meeting was held at the US Consulate in Paris. Please find below a summary of this meeting with many information that should be useful.
Participants in the meeting:
- Colombia Barrosse, General Consul
- Head of Visas
- Head of Non-Immigrant Visas
- Delphine Aubert, Director of Visit USA France
- Rémi Vénitien, President of Visit USA France
- Geoffrey Duval, Honorary President of Visit USA France
The current situation:
There are currently long delays in making appointments for US visa applications. Although the problem is worldwide, the US Consulate in Paris is fully aware of this problematic situation and is working to shorten the delays. As a result, measures have already been implemented and will continue to be implemented in the short, medium and long term.
Over the past year, the US Consulate has been actively working on reducing delays in making appointments. In 2019, 75,000 visas were issued, and thanks to the efforts undertaken by the Consulate, 56,000 visas were issued last year, a 75% return to normal.
A staffing process is currently underway to open more slots. This takes some time due to the delays in recruitment, administrative process and training.
Each week, new slots are opened, allowing them to satisfy a greater number of visa applicants.
Visa turnaround time:
To date, visa applicants are getting an appointment with the Consulate for April 2023. A few weeks ago, appointments were proposed for April 2024. Delays are getting shorter. It is therefore necessary to first create an account to have an appointment, regardless of the date initially proposed.
The opening of new slots as well as cancellations have already allowed the advancement of many appointments, which allows French citizens to obtain an appointment at the consulate by the end of 2022. This means that on one hand, the Consulate automatically advances all future appointments, and on the other hand, each applicant can go on the website every day, consult the status of his/her file, and modify his/her appointment free of charge (and unlimited) to take advantage of the additional slots regularly added by the Consulate, or those made free by cancellations
Process in case of advancement of the appointment date
People whose appointment is advanced receive an e-mail.
All applicants are invited to check their SPAMS inbox beforehand, or to log in regularly on the platform so as not to miss this important information.
People in emergency situations are prioritized. Groups of visa applicants (J, F, B1/B2, C visas…) are created on the software in order to balance the requests and satisfy as many applicants as possible. Moreover applications from French residents are prioritized at the US Consulate in Paris. Even if other applications (from foreign countries) are not refused, they will be processed later.
Do not check the « Expedite » box if the reason of the trip is not urgent. The application will not be prioritized and it will only clog up the system. Among the most frequent « Expedite » reasons – whose supporting documents will always be checked – appear medical cases (surgery on a fixed date). In any case, it is necessary to anticipate the application as much as possible to improve the chances of receiving a visa « in time ». As a reminder, reasons such as « vacation in NYC », « Halloween in the USA »… are not reasons for prioritization. Remember that clients can always connect on their account and look for cancellations or new slots in order to change their appointment.
People who have traveled to Cuba since January 12, 2021 must now apply for a visa.
The fact that the passport is not stamped « Cuba » will not change anything because the authorities can verify the information electronically.
All persons who have traveled to Cuba since January 12, 2021 or who would like to travel to Cuba can apply for a US visa whenever they want. It is not necessary to have purchased a plane ticket to apply for a visa, and it is not necessary to travel in the next few months. Please note that the visa is valid for 10 years.
Advice to travelers: Never lie to the American authorities about the country they have visited (or about any other subject) ; otherwise they should be refused at the entry to the US for several years.
If the ESTA is REFUSED
If an ESTA is denied because the applicant made a mistake in filling out the application, he/she is invited to contact DHS https://www.dhs.gov/dhs-trip for a correction of the file (REDRESSMENT section) and to apply for a visa in parallel to maximize his/her chances of traveling in time.
Travelers are encouraged to apply for an ESTA as soon as their trip is planned because if the ESTA is denied, they will have more time to apply for a visa.
Travelers can check the ESTA requirements on the DHS website.
Important information for customers
The December/January and early May to early September periods are the busiest at the Consulate due to vacation departures and numerous requests from students during these periods.
All clients and travel agents are invited to consult the US Embassy’s website (VISA and FAQ sections) before contacting them as the sections are very complete and the phone line is often busy. If the answer is mentioned in the « Questions and Answers » section of the Embassy website, the question will not be answered. We invite people to carefully check the US Embassy’s website beforehand.
Information about visa applications: https://fr.usembassy.gov/fr/visas-fr/
Frequently asked questions (Appointment / Fees / Delivery addresses) : https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-fr/niv/information/faqs
Visa application / Appointment scheduling) / DS-160 form: https://ceac.state.gov/ceac/
ESTA applications: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/
Information on the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA: https://fr.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-waiver-program/ and https://www.dhs.gov/dhs-trip
Message to the Trade as well as customers:
Don’t be discouraged, visa processing times are getting shorter and shorter, and appointments are often advanced!