WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of State has exceeded expectations in visa processing, issuing a historic number of nonimmigrant visas (NIVs) globally in 2023, surpassing figures from 2015. This surge is seen as a positive force for U.S. economic growth, fostering international relations while maintaining national security.
Despite high demand, the Department of State is committed to reducing wait times, using new tools and technology to streamline visa processing.
Landmark Achievements in Visa Processing
Over 10.4 million nonimmigrant visas were issued in fiscal year 2023, with half of U.S. embassies and consulates recording their highest totals. Innovative measures, such as interview waivers, allowed over 40 percent of travelers to receive U.S. nonimmigrant visas without in-person interviews.
Success Amid Challenges: Key Achievements
Efforts during the recovery period include reuniting families through the issuance of 563,000 immigrant visas in FY 2023. Interview scheduling backlogs have reduced by nearly 50 percent since July 2021.
The processing of seasonal workers reached new heights with a record-breaking 442,000 visas issued to H-2A and H-2B temporary workers in 2023. The United States also maintained its appeal to foreign talent, issuing the most ever nonimmigrant and immigrant visas to high-skilled workers and executives.
Elevated National Security Measures
Streamlined processing enhanced U.S. national security, with advanced technology significantly reducing the number of visa applications requiring security processing.
Addressing Visa Interview Wait Times
While processing capacity has rebounded, some countries still face historically high demand, resulting in longer visa interview wait times. The department encourages applicants to consider alternative embassies or consulates with shorter wait times.
Future Enhancements for Travelers
In a forward-looking move, the Department of State plans to launch a pilot program for the domestic renewal of employment visas in January, promising a more efficient process for temporary workers in the U.S. After evaluating the pilot’s success, the department aims to expand the domestic renewal program in 2024.