To reduce visa processing delays in India, the US has launched new initiatives, including scheduling special interviews for first-time applicants and increasing consular staffing. As part of a multi-pronged approach to reduce the visa backlog, the US Embassy in Delhi and consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad held “Special Saturday Interview Days” on 21 January.
The US Embassy said :
•On January 21, the US Mission in India began the first of a series of special Saturday interviews as part of a larger effort to reduce wait times for first-time visa applicants.
•The United States Embassy in New Delhi and consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad resumed consular operations on Saturday to accommodate applicants who require in-person visa interviews,” the statement said.
• The Mission will continue to open “additional slots” for meetings to be held on select Saturdays in the coming months.
•These additional interview days are just one component of a multifaceted initiative to address the visa backlog caused by COVID-19.
•It said the US State Department has implemented remote processing of interview waivers for applicants with previous US visas.
•Between January and March 2023, dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will arrive in India to increase visa processing capacity.
•By this summer, the US mission in India will be fully staffed and we expect to process visas at pre-COVID-19 levels
The US Mission in India has posted over 2,50,000 additional B1/B2 appointments. While B1 is a business visa, B-2 is a tourist visa. The mission said the Consulate General in Mumbai has also extended its working hours on weekdays to accommodate more meetings.
The statement said that as travel restrictions were lifted, the Mission to India made it a priority to facilitate legitimate travel and decided more than 8,00,000 non-immigrant visas in 2022, including a record number of student and employee visas.
The embassy also said “In every other visa category, interview wait times in India are at or below pre-pandemic levels, the Consulate General 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 putting in extra hours to meet the needs of international travelers and reduce waiting times,” said Mumbai Consular Chief John Ballard. “This is part of a mission-wide effort to find innovative solutions to facilitate travel to the United States,” the official said.
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