US starts new process to push to shorten Indian visa wait times
The US has started new steps with the goal of reducing delays in visa processing in India, including arranging special interviews for first-time applicants and beefing up consular staff.
The US embassy in Delhi and the consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad held "special Saturday interview days" on January 21 as part of a multi-pronged effort to reduce the visa backlog.
The US embassy in India announced on Sunday that "on January 21, the US mission in India inaugurated the first in a series of special Saturday interview days, as part of a larger effort to cut wait periods for first-time visa applicants."
In order to accommodate applicants who need in-person visa interviews, the United States Embassy in New Delhi and Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad all started consular operations on Saturday, it said in a statement.
In the upcoming months, the mission will keep creating "extra slots" for appointments to take place on particular Saturdays.
In order to overcome the backlog in visa processing brought on by Covid-19, it was said that "these additional interview days are merely one component of a multi-pronged strategy."
It claimed that for applicants with prior US visas, the US State Department has established remote processing of interview waiver cases.
It added that to improve the capacity for processing visas, dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will travel to India between January and March 2023.
More than 2,50,000 extra B1/B2 appointments were made available by the US mission in India. B-2 is a tourist visa, whereas B1 is a business visa.
The mission reported that in order to accommodate more appointments, the consulate general in Mumbai also extended business hours during the week.
According to the embassy, "by this summer, the US mission in India will be fully staffed, and we anticipate that we will be processing visas at levels from before the Covid-19 outbreak."
The mission to India has made it a priority to enable legal travel since travel restrictions have been relaxed, according to the statement, and will adjudicate over 8,00,000 nonimmigrant visas in 2022, including a record number of student and job visas.
According to the statement, "Indian interview wait times are pre-pandemic levels or below for every other visa category."
According to the embassy, the Consulate General in Mumbai today handles the majority of visa decisions in India and runs one of the largest visa operations worldwide.
According to Mumbai Consular Chief John Ballard, "Our consular employees across India are putting in the extra hours to accommodate the demands of overseas travellers and reduce wait times."
The official stated, "This is part of a Mission-wide effort to discover creative ways to ease travel to the United States."