The US embassy in India is aiming to cut visa wait times for applicants with initiatives like special interviews for first-time applicants and greater strength of visa staff across the country.
As part of these attempts, the US embassy in Delhi and its consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad conducted special interviews on Saturday, January 21, to accommodate applicants requiring in-person visa interviews. According to the US embassy statement, the embassy will continue to open additional slots on select Saturdays in the coming months.
The US embassy said in a statement accessed by news agency ANI, “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 opened consular operations on Saturday to accommodate applicants [requiring] in-person visa interviews.”
The statement added that in another attempt to save time, the US government has implemented remote processing of interview waiver cases for applicants having previous US visas. It further noted many temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will come to India to raise processing capacity.
The US State Department is also increasing the number of consular officers permanently assigned to the Embassy and Consulates. The US mission in India has released over 2.5 lakh additional B1 (business) and B2 (tourism) appointments. The US Consulate General Mumbai has also increased its weekday operating hours to accommodate additional appointments.
The US embassy also stated that the mission in India will be fully staffed and it is likely to process visas at pre-COVID levels. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted US visa processing massively and many of the embassies and consulates were only able to offer emergency services.
(With agency inputs)
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