US Mission in India gears up for record number of student visa applications during summer of 2023
A record-breaking 125,000 Indians were issued student visas in 2022 with one out of every five student visas issued in India, officials said as US Mission in India geared up for another record year during summer of 2023.
The US Mission in India held its seventh annual Student Visa Day countrywide on June 7 with Consular Officers from New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai interviewing almost 3,500 Indian student visa applicants, according to a US embassy release.
READ: Record 200,000 Indian students chose US for higher studies (November 16, 2022)
US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti and Consuls General throughout India congratulated visa recipients as they prepared to join the growing ranks of Indian students who have chosen to study in the United States – the world’s leading destination for international students.
“I first came to India as a young student, and I’ve seen in my own life how transformative these experiences can be,” said Garcetti.
“Student exchange is at the heart of US-India relations, and with good reason. A US education provides students a world-class education and access to a global network of knowledge, laying the foundation for a lifetime of understanding. That’s why we are here today, to encourage these opportunities for as many Indian students as possible.”
“Last year, a record-breaking 125,000 Indians were issued student visas, which is more than were issued to any other nationality,” said Brendan Mullarkey, the acting Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs in India.
“In fact, one out of every five student visas were issued in India last year. This year, we will interview more students than ever before,” he said.
Student Visa Day celebrates the long-standing higher education ties between the United States and India. This year, more than 200,000 Indian students are studying at US academic institutions, representing more than 20 percent of international students currently in the United States, according to the release.
READ: US remains top choice for Indian students for study abroad (November 16, 2021)
The US Mission encourages all students interested in studying in the United States to contact EducationUSA, the free US government-sponsored advising service that offers credible and comprehensive information to help navigate the admission and visa processes, the release said.
EducationUSA represents accredited US colleges and universities with eight advising centers across India. Students can visit educationusa.state.gov or @educationUSAIndia on Facebook and Instagram to learn more.
Meanwhile in Washington, describing India as an important partner wherein people to people relationship plays a significant role, a couple of influential US lawmakers have urged the Biden administration to address visa wait time issue in India on priority basis.
Senator Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Congressman Michael Waltz, Co-Chair of the House India Caucus, during two separate Congressional hearings on Consular Affairs Budget asked top State Department officials why people in India were facing visa wait time of up to 600 days.
“New Jersey is home to a great number of Indian Americans and their families. I appreciate and applaud the department’s heightened focus towards reducing wait times for first time B1-B2 applicants in India,” Menendez said.
“But despite that progress this past year, India continues to face the longest wait times globally with average wait times for an appointment for the first time B1-B2 applicant ranging between 450 and 600 days,” Menendez noted during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
Read: US remains top choice for Indian students; UK sees massive jump (September 27, 2021)
“One of the consistent and painful complaints that I receive from Indian Americans and from our Indian colleagues is the wait time, despite the fact that in India, I believe you have the second or third most consular affairs officers,” Waltz said during a House Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
“The data that I have is that the average waiting period in Mumbai, India was 587 calendar days. With our trade over $150 billion with the consequential relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi coming for a state dinner and visit just this month, what are we doing to fix this. Have you looked at any India specific policy fast tracks or issues?” he asked.
Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Rena Bitter told lawmakers at the two Congressional hearings that the State Department is working hard on it and has taken several steps to address this issue.
“India is a place where we have historically had high demand for visas and there’s just a tremendous amount of pent up demand,” she said.
“The visa wait times has been reduced by about two thirds,” Bitter said. “We have opened appointments for Indian nationals, dedicated appointments in other posts for specific appointments and in all other categories.”
“We will adjudicate one million visas in India this year. Our productivity there is extraordinarily high,” she said.
In the House Congressional hearing Bitter said the US has opened appointments for Indian applicants at other posts that are dedicated just to Indians to make sure that they are able to get their travel needs met.
“We surge staff to India. We reduced wait times by about two thirds at the beginning of the year and we’ll continue to focus on it. We’re very aware of these issues,” she said.