Washington, March 29
The wait time for a US visitor’s visa interview in India has been reduced by 60 per cent this year, a senior official has said, attributing it to several steps the United States has taken, including increasing the number of officials and opening other diplomatic missions to process these applications.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services Julie Stufft told PTI in an interview that the goal of the State Department is to get to 1 million visas issued this year, which would be above the pre-pandemic number.
We have increased the number of officers going to India. We have set up arrangements, which is unprecedented, with other embassies in the world like Bangkok to take Indians who are seeking visas. We are opening a new consulate in Hyderabad… and we’re just focused on making sure that we can bring the wait time down in India,” she said.
Stufft noted that Frankfurt, London and Abu Dhabi have taken a lot of Indian citizens who are seeking visas.
We have asked these missions to take Indians as if they were from their own host country. Especially in places like Bangkok where there is no visa required for Indians and it is a relatively short flight.
“Obviously this is not ideal. We want Indians to be able to apply in India, and that’s where we’ll get to,” she said.
More than 100 US diplomatic missions have been issuing visas to Indians.
“As a result of all of these efforts, the visitor visa interview wait time has decreased by 60 per cent just in the last couple of months. This is a result of all the work that we’ve put into making sure that Indians who wish to travel to the US can do so.”
Stufft said that currently, “visa production in India is 40 per cent higher than it was before the pandemic” and asserted that the State Department was working hard to bring down the wait time.
In February the US had the highest on-record production of visas in India.