India is first priority for visas,” says US Embassy, ​​but students are still waiting a long time for tourists


New DelhiIndia is Washington’s top visa priority, a senior embassy official in India said Thursday, citing recent concerns about processing delays and backlogs in the country.

The State Department sent temporary vice consuls to help speed up the visa processing rate and deal with the backlog in India. In addition, filing rules for many visa categories, particularly student visas, have been relaxed to further reduce backlogs, added the official, who did not want to be named.

In filing cases, where one is renewing a visa in the same category, the applicant usually does not have to give an interview, but simply provides their documents and information to the embassy.

Significantly, the senior official explained, the visa adviser staff will be at 100% capacity by summer 2023 in India. This will be the highest for 10 to 15 years. With this capacity, the U.S. Embassy expects visa processing to return to pre-pandemic levels of 1.1 to 1.2 million per year.

Some dropbox visa applications are also sent for adjudication in other countries. This frees up staff in India to deal with the backlog, the official added.

Alluding to the recent shortage of visa appointments in India, the embassy official clarified that they recently added 100,000 appointments for the popular non-immigrant work visa, H&L visas. .

These visas are for qualified technology and management professionals migrating to the United States for work and include the H1B visa. This decision has significantly reduced waiting times for appointments for those applying for an H&L visa in the United States.

Nearly 82,000 student visas have been granted to India this year, more than China, which traditionally receives more visas. However, Covid restrictions have restricted operation there, the official explained.

“The number of visas we process every day is greater than the number of applications. This is a positive step as it contributes to the processing rate. This will increase as we reach 100% visa staff by next year,” the official added.

“Essentially, Covid-19 has disrupted all of our visa processing times and functions. In an ideal world, there would be no disruptions or staff shortages,” the senior embassy official said.

More visas granted to India than to China

Unpacking the different types of US visas disbursed in India, the embassy staff explained that student, business, tourist and professional visas are issued in the country. No country in the world applies for the vast categories and volumes that India does.

“The only other country that compares is China, but we only issued 50,000 student visas there this year,” the official said.

The United States expects this trend to continue next year as well, unless China changes its policy, he added.

US not withholding student visas, but tourism backlog continues

The U.S. Embassy hosted 10% more student visa appointments this year than in 2021. They will also exceed the 10% increase for next year, the official explained.

Furthermore, the senior official clarified that the United States does not hesitate to grant visas to Indians or to wait for any form of reciprocity from India to clear the backlog.

However, wait times for B1/B2 visas – those for businesses and tourists – will continue to persist. In particular, those for new B1/B2 candidates.

Specifically, applicants who have held a B2 tourist visa for the United States in the past can use the drop box and expect a faster processing time. For new applicants, the processing time will be long, officials said.

Read also : US visa processing time expected to decrease by mid-2023: official


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