To reduce delays in visa processing in India, the US has launched new initiatives, including scheduling special interviews for first-time applicants and increasing the consular staff force.
As part of the multi-pronged approach to reduce visa backlog, the US Embassy in Delhi and Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad conducted 'Special Interview Days on Saturday' on January 21.
According to a statement released by the US Embassy on Sunday, "the US Mission in India inaugurated the first in a series of special Saturday interview days on January 21 as part of a larger effort to minimize wait periods for first-time visa applicants."
According to a statement from the US Embassy in New Delhi, "the US consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad began consular operations on Saturday to accommodate applicants who require in-person visa interviews."
The Mission will continue to open “additional slots” for appointments that will take place on select Saturdays in the coming months.
According to her, "These extra interview days are simply one part of a multi-pronged attempt to resolve the backlog in visa processing brought on by COVID-19."
She said the US Department of State has implemented remote case processing of interview waivers for applicants who have previous US visas.
To enhance the capacity for processing visas, dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will travel to India between January and March 2023.
The US Mission in India has issued more than 2,50,000 additional B1/B2 designations. While the B1 is a business visa, the B-2 is a tourist visa.
The mission said the Consulate General in Mumbai has also extended its working hours on weekdays to make room for additional appointments.
“By this summer, the US Mission in India will be fully staffed and we expect visa processing to be at pre-COVID-19 levels,” the embassy said.
With the lifting of travel restrictions, the mission to India has become a priority to facilitate legal travel and award more than 8,00,000 non-immigrant visas by 2022, including record numbers for student and employment visas, according to the release.
“In all other visa categories, wait times for interviews in India are at pre-pandemic levels or lower,” she said.
The embassy said that the Consulate General in Mumbai is currently processing the majority of 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 wait times, said the Head of the Consulate General in Mumbai, John Ballard.
The official said this is part of a larger effort by the mission to find innovative solutions to facilitate travel to the United States.
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