The US has introduced new initiatives to reduce delays in Indian visa processing, including arranging special interviews for first-time applicants and increasing the number of consular staff. As part of a multi-pronged approach to reduce visa backlogs, the US embassy in Delhi and consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad held a “special Saturday interview day” on January 21.
“On January 21, the U.S. Mission to India launched the first in a series of special Saturday interview days as part of a larger effort to reduce wait times for first-time visa applicants,” the U.S. embassy said on Sunday.
“The US embassy in New Delhi and consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad all opened consular operations on Saturday to accommodate applicants requiring in-person visa interviews,” it said in a statement.
The mission will remain open for “extra slots” by appointment on select Saturdays in the coming months.
“These additional interview days are just one component of a multi-pronged plan to address the visa processing backlog caused by COVID-19,” it said.
It said that the U.S. State Department has implemented remote processing of interview-free cases for applicants holding past U.S. visas.
Dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will arrive in India between January and March 2023 to boost visa processing capacity, it said.
The US Mission in India posted over 250,000 additional B1/B2 appointments. B1 is a business visa and B-2 is a tourist visa.
The Consulate General in Mumbai has also extended its business hours on weekdays to make room for additional appointments, the mission said.
“By this summer, the U.S. mission in India will be full and we expect to process visas at pre-COVID-19 levels,” the embassy said.
Missions in India are prioritizing the promotion of legal travel as travel restrictions are lifted, adjudicating more than 800,000 non-immigrant visas in 2022, including a record number of student and work visas, the statement said.
“In all other visa categories, interview wait times in India are at or below pre-pandemic levels,” it said.
The embassy said the Consulate General in Mumbai currently processes the most visa applications in India and is one of the largest visa operations in the world.
“Our consular teams across India are working overtime to meet the needs of international travelers and reduce wait times,” said Mumbai Consulate General John Ballard. “This is part of an effort across the delegation to find innovative solutions to facilitate travel to the United States,” the official said.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from syndicated feeds.)
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