Washington [US]: India is the main priority for the United States, US Visa officials said adding that there has been around 36 per cent rise on visa processing across the country after Covid-19 pandemic.
While addressing a presser organised by Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies on Tuesday, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs Julie Stufft said, “India is the number one priority that we are facing right now. We are absolutely committed to getting out of this situation. Anyone in India seeking a visa appointment or visa have to wait for that’s not certainly our ideal.”
She further stated, “So far this year, we have issued 36 per cent more visas than we did before the Covid-19 pandemic in India. And that is a huge percentage of progress.”
She also said that they are doing everything to reduce the wait time.
“All the non-visitor time or student-visa have very very low wait times and that’s really key. Our H-1B and F student’s wait time were just as high almost six months ago and so we brought down the wait time,” she added.
The H-1B visa, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
Talking about the India-US relationship, Deputy Assistant Secretary for India Nancy Jackson said that people-to-people is the most important tie between US and India.
“As I look at the relationship it strikes me that people-to-people ties between our two nations are really the bedrock of what is one of the most consequential relationships in the world and that is the India-US relationship. And we can’t underscore that enough and so addressing the view wait time that we were facing is critical. Not only to maintain these people-to-people ties but also to expand in that space. So because of that, this issue remains a top priority,” she added.
Earlier this month, the US Embassy in India said that Indians who are travelling abroad can get a visa appointment at the US Embassy or consulate of their destination. It cited the example of Thailand, saying that the country has opened appointment capacity for B1 and B2 visas (business and travel) for Indians.
On January 21, the US Mission in India launched the first in a series of special Saturday interview days to reduce wait times for first-time visa applicants. 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.
The US Mission will continue to open additional slots for appointments to take place on select Saturdays, according to the statement released by US Embassy in India. These additional interview days are among the measures that have been taken to address the backlog in visa processing caused by COVID-19.
The US Department of State has implemented remote processing of interview waiver cases for applicants with previous US visas. According to the statement, dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will arrive in India to increase processing capacity in January-March.