ABU DHABI: Executives in the travel industry are reporting delays in getting US visit visas, with some saying appointments are only available in August 2023. “Residents can apply for US tourist visas, but the appointment will be available by mid-next year,” said Bharat Aidasani, director of Pluto travels.
“Residents want to travel, and we have been receiving huge travel demand to the US and Schengen countries. However, due to unavailability of visas, we have other travel options to many new destinations,” said Aidasani.
Jonathan Webster, consul general, US Embassy in Abu Dhabi confirmed that there are significant delays in issuing tourist visas, especially to first-time applicants.
“Some first-time visa applicants are getting appointments in August 2023,” noted Webster.
“The situation is not unique to the UAE as the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown considerably impacted our operations and led to a backlog. However, I encourage people to keep checking the online appointments system for availability as sometimes spots open up earlier,” stated the consul general.
However, Webster also said those with US visas which expired within the last four years will be able to request for an interview waiver. “Additionally, students and those with medical emergencies or important business travel will be able to take advantage of expedited procedures,” he added.
Raja Mir Wasim, manager, Galadari International Travel Services said that they received an appointment in August 2023. “We have applied for a US visa for our client and have received the appointment for next year. All we can do is to have other travel options for now,” said Wasim.
Wasim also added that visas are being prioritized in emergency cases like death or medical cases.
Libin Varghese, director of sales and marketing, ROOH Tourism LLC highlighted that no specific time frame for appointments can be given. “We cannot give a specific time frame for appointments, but all we can say is the appointment will be scheduled next year after June,” said Varghese.
“Travel to US has always been in demand and I believe it is due to applications that were received during the pandemic as the travel industry was at still,” added Varghese.
Following the delay in Schengen visas and US visas, Varghese said that the residents are willing to travel to a few countries in Europe, and even Africa. “We have travel scheduled for a few European countries like Serbia, Eurasian countries like Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Asian countries like Kazakhstan,” added Varghese.
Another travel aggregator, Thomas Liju, Sales Manager, Tours On Board Pvt LTD said that residents are even opting to travel to Far Eastern countries for summer especially those who are unable to obtain visas to the US or Schengen countries.
“Many residents have also cancelled their travel plans to Europe due to delay in visa appointments due to a massive rush as the travel sector recovers rapidly after the pandemic,” said Liju.
“Residents are now opting for Bali and other Indonesian cities, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand,” added Liju.