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US begins new push to reduce Indian visa waiting times

In an effort to reduce visa processing delays in India, the United States has introduced new initiatives, such as arranging special interviews for first-time applicants and increasing consular staffing. The US embassy in Delhi and consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad held “special Saturday interview days” on January 21 as part of a multi-pronged strategy to reduce the visa backlog.

In an effort to minimise wait periods for first-time visa applicants, the US mission in India announced a series of special Saturday interview days on January 21.

“The United States Embassy in New Delhi and the United States Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad all began consular operations on Saturday to accommodate applicants who require in-person visa interviews,” the statement stated.

In the following months, the mission will continue to make “more slots” available for Saturday appointments.

“These additional interview days are but one component of a multi-pronged effort to overcome the backlog in visa processing caused by Covid-19,” the document stated.

It was stated that the US State Department has launched remote processing of interview waiver cases for past US visa applicants.

Dozens of temporary consular employees from Washington and other embassies would arrive in India between January and March 2023 to improve visa processing capacity, according to the report.

The US mission in India released an additional 2,500,000 B1/B2 appointments. B2 is a tourist visa, whereas B1 is a business visa.

The mission stated that the Consulate General in Mumbai extended its weekday business hours to accommodate additional appointments.

“By this summer, the US mission in India will be fully staffed, and we anticipate that visa processing will return to pre-Covid-19 levels,” the embassy added.

As travel restrictions have been relaxed, the mission to India has made it a priority to enable genuine travel and issued a record number of employment and student nonimmigrant visas in 2022.

In all other visa categories, interview wait times in India are at or below pre-pandemic levels, according to the report.
According to the embassy, Consulate General Mumbai adjudicates the most visa applications in India and is one of the largest visa operations in the world.

“Our consular personnel across India are putting in extra hours to fulfil the needs of overseas travellers and reduce wait times,” said John Ballard, the chief consular officer in Mumbai.

“This is part of a mission-wide effort to find novel travel solutions to the United States,” the person explained.

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