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US embassy moves to cut visa wait for Indians

Published on 2023-06-04 16:22:45 source:NBC News

The US embassy and its consulates in India have launched several new initiatives to cut wait time and increase visa processing across the country.

The current wait-time for Indian visitors is 500-600 days.

The US mission said its services in India had been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, creating a large backlog.

It affected several Indian businesses and thousands of Indians who rely on the visa to live and work in the US.

"Our consular teams across India are putting in the extra hours to meet the needs of international travellers and bring down wait times," Mumbai Consular Chief John Ballard said in a statement on the embassy website.

"This is part of a mission-wide effort to find innovative solutions to facilitate travel to the United States," he added.

For Indians applying for work visas, the wait time currently ranges from 60-280 days while the wait time for visitors is approximately 1.5 years.

The long wait time for Indian visitors is in contrast to those from European cities where it is about 20 days.

Applicants in Asian cities such as Beijing and Colombo have to wait approximately 30-35 days, estimates from the US State Department show.

India's wait time has, however, improved from the nearly three years that many applicants faced in 2022.

The US Mission has said its embassies in Delhi and consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad will now be open on Saturdays to accommodate applicants who require in-person visa interviews.

The consulate general in Mumbai has also extended its operating hours on weekdays to make space for additional appointments.

The mission said the US State Department would soon increase the number of consular officers permanently assigned to offices in India.

By March, it will also incorporate dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies to increase its processing capacity.

"The US mission to India has made it a priority to facilitate legitimate travel and adjudicated over 800,000 non-immigrant visas in 2022, including record numbers of both student and employment visas," its statement said.

It added that it released 250,000 additional B1/B2 visa appointments - required for visitors - in 2022.

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