Washington sending dozens of temporary consular officers to India to increase processing capacity
With Covid-19 related travel restrictions lifted, the US Mission in India is making special efforts to reduce visa wait times and expects to be processing visas at pre pandemic levels by summer.
As part of a larger effort to reduce wait times for first-time visa applicants, it launched the first in a series of special Saturday interview days, according to a press release.
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The US 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.
In the coming months, the Mission will continue to open additional slots for appointments to take place on select Saturdays.
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 release said.
The Department of State 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 processing capacity.
The Department of State is also increasing the number of consular officers permanently assigned to the Embassy and Consulates.
The US Mission in India released more than 250,000 additional B1/B2 appointments.nConsulate General 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 expects to be processing visas at levels from prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the release said.
The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in profound reductions in the Departmentâ€™s visa processing capacity, and many of US embassies and consulates were at times only able to offer emergency services.
As travel restrictions have been lifted, the US Mission to India has made it a priority to facilitate legitimate travel and adjudicated over 800,000 nonimmigrant visas in 2022, including record numbers of both student and employment visas, according to the release. In every other visa category, interview wait times in India are at pre-pandemic levels or lower.
Consulate General Mumbai currently adjudicates the most visa applications in India and is one of the largest visa operations in the world.
â€œOur consular teams across India are putting in the extra hours to meet the needs of international travelers and bring down wait times,â€ said Mumbai Consular Chief John Ballard. â€œThis is part of a Mission wide effort to find innovative solutions to facilitate travel to the United States.â€
For more information about the visa process or to schedule a visa appointment, please visit:Â https://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/en