The US Embassy in India today announced that some visa applicants will now be able to seek appointments in other countries. The move is aimed at reducing the backlog, with the waiting period for a US visa as high as 800 days at some centres in India.
The US embassy today said that Indians applying for a business or tourist visa will be able to apply for an appointment at embassies or consulates outside India.
“Do you have upcoming international travel? If so, you may be able to get a visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your destination. For example, @USEmbassyBKK has opened B1/B2 appointment capacity for Indians who will be in Thailand in the coming months. (sic),” the US embassy India tweeted.
The embassy cited Thailand as an example, saying that the country has the capacity for B1 and B2 visas.
The US has also announced a series of other initiatives to cut the backlog in visa appointments, including increasing the strength of consular staff and organising special interviews for first-time applicants.
During the Covid pandemic, a lot of the staff at the US embassies had been let go as the number of applications was low during that period. India was one of the very few countries where applications for US visas saw a major upswing after coronavirus-related travel restrictions were lifted.
The US has announced that it will hire more staff by summer this year.
People looking to renew their US visa can submit their application through a dropbox. Since their biometrics are already with the US government, they will not be asked to appear in person for another biometric evaluation.
The US embassy and consulates are expecting to receive a record number of visas from Indian students this year and hence are working on a multi-pronged approach to cut backlog, according to John Ballard, the consular chief at the US Consulate General in Mumbai.
The US embassy in Delhi and the consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad have also started conducting “special Saturday interview days” to aid first-time applicants.
The US mission in India released more than 2,50,000 additional B1/B2 appointments two weeks ago.
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