US launches new initiative to cut visa wait time
With an aim to cut delays in visa processing in India, the US has launched new initiatives, including scheduling special interviews for first time applicants and increasing strength of consular staff. As part of the multi-pronged approach to cut the visa backlog, the US embassy in Delhi and the consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad conducted “special Saturday interview days” on January 21.
“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 US embassy said on Sunday.
“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,” it said in a statement.
The mission will continue to open “additional slots” for appointments to take place on select Saturdays in the coming months.
“These additional interview days are just one component of a multi-pronged initiative to address the backlog in visa processing caused by COVID-19,” it said.
It said the US State Department has implemented remote processing of interview waiver cases 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, it said.
The US mission in India released more than 2,50,000 additional B1/B2 appointments. While B1 is a business visa, B-2 is tourism visa.
The mission said the Consulate General in Mumbai also extended its weekday operating hours to make space for additional appointments.