Why do people stand outside the US consulates for hours in the morning?

Why do people stand outside the US consulates for hours in the morning but the appointment and all guides online say not to arrive more than 15 minutes before the interview time?

I have seen this happen in both Chennai and Delhi.

What actually is going on here?

Is there a discrepancy between what is mentioned and what happens in real life?

You wouldn’t want to risk getting delayed in traffic, would you ? And, if you are late by more than 30 minutes, guards will not let you in and give you a very tough time, should you plead with them. I have witnessed this personally.

Thank you. But I guess my question is, if my appointment is at 7.30 am (the consulate is close to where I live plus there will be little traffic at this time), what time should I reach the consulate?

I am asking because I see queues outside the consulate from 6 am! So, if I reach at say, 7 am, would I have to stand at the end of a half-km long queue or should I go and approach the guards at the gate at 7.15 sharp without standing in the queue as I would have no idea what time the appointment of those standing in the queue before me would be and if the queue would move fast enough to make me reach the gate before 8 (half an hour per your post).


My understanding is that they allow you to stand in queue only if the visa appointment is within next 15-30 minutes. Otherwise they will ask you to go and stand somewhere else.