US Mission: Embassies launch new initiatives; aims to cut delays in visa processing in India

The United State Department has implemented remote processing of interview waiver cases for applicants with previous US visas.


US Visa

The United States (US) embassies have launched new initiatives aimed to cut the visa processing time in India. The initiatives include scheduling special interviews for first-time applicants and increasing the strength of consular staff.

New Initiatives by US Embassies

The new initiative is an approach to cut the visa delay, the US embassy in Delhi and the consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad conducted “special Saturday interview days” on January 21.

On Sunday, the US Embassy said, “On January 21, the US mission in 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 United States Embassy in New Delhi and Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad all opened consular operations on Saturday to accommodate applicants who require in-person visa interviews,” said the embassy.

The new development will continue to open ‘additional slots’ for appointments to take place on select Saturdays in the coming months.

In a release, the US embassy said, “These additional interview days are just one component of a multi-pronged initiative to address the backlog in visa processing caused by COVID-19.”

The United State Department has implemented remote processing of interview waiver cases for applicants with previous US visas.

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US Mission: India

Dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will arrive in India to increase visa processing capacity between January and March 2023, said the release.

The US mission in India released more than 2,50,000 additional B1/B2 appointments. While B1 is a business visa, B-2 is a tourism visa. The mission said the Consulate General in Mumbai also extended its weekday operating hours to make space for additional appointments.

“By this summer, the US mission in India will be at full staffing, and we expect to be processing visas at levels from prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.

Further, the release added that as travel restrictions have been lifted, the mission to India has made it a priority to facilitate legitimate travel and adjudicated over 8,00,000 nonimmigrant visas in 2022, including record numbers of both student and employment visas.

“In every other visa category, interview wait times in India are at pre-pandemic levels or lower,” it said.

Currently, Consulate General Mumbai adjudicates the most visa applications in India and is one of the largest visa operations in the world, the embassy said.

“Our consular teams across India are putting in the extra hours to meet the needs of international travellers and bring down wait 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.