U.S. visa wait times expected to approach normal by mid-2023 | Latest India News

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US visa wait times are expected to normalize by mid-2023, although progress has already been made with rule changes and the opening of 100,000 H and work visa slots. L, a senior US embassy official said Thursday.



After issuing 82,000 student visas for India this year, the priority is now to reduce wait times for non-immigrant work visas such as the H and L categories, including the coveted H-1B visas. , B-1 business visa, B-2 tourism. visa and visas for crews of shipping companies and airlines.

The United States will initially “aggressively” focus on applicants in these categories using the “drop box” feature, or those who have already received a US visa and are exempt from interviews, before looking into the case of first-time applicants. The effort, the official said, will be to reduce wait times as much as possible and move towards greater normality by June-July 2023.

Priority will also be given to holders of H-1B visas in the United States who wish to travel to India for family reunions, then the focus will be on new applicants.



Unlike other sections of the US State Department, the Bureau of Consular Affairs – which is responsible for issuing visas – is funded by the revenue it generates. As the Covid-19 pandemic affected visa operations and revenue, the office had to resize. Once visa applications, including from India, saw a huge jump, he strove to increase staff.

Read also :US Visa Delays: Online Petition Launched to Reduce Waiting Times in India

Onboarding, training and deploying staff overseas will take a bit longer as “the government is bouncing back slower” and staffing in India is expected to reach 100% by summer 2023, it said. the manager. The United States also resorts to measures such as the use of temporary workers and sending Indian applications to remote locations for processing, especially for those who use the drop box.



“The opening of the additional 100,000 slots for H and L visas has reduced the waiting time from more than a year earlier to about half. The waiting time for those using the box of filing for B-1 and B-2 visas continues to be several months in. We will see progress over the next nine months,” the official said.

Although the US State Department’s website on visa appointment wait times shows that new applicants to New Delhi for B-1 and B-2 visas face a wait of 925 days, the manager indicated that the actual time would be less.

“India is the number one priority for Washington now… There are only a lot of candidates in all categories only in India, and that’s why it’s a priority,” the official said, acknowledging that experts were unprepared for the rate at which demand for visas had arrived after the pandemic subsided. Experts had predicted that there would be an increase in demand only in 2025, the official added.



The US side expects applications for all types of visas in India to increase to around 100,000 per month – or about 1.2 million per year – by 2023, making the country the second largest for foreigners. visa operations after China. “But we are seeing signs of progress. The daily cases handled exceed the number of people applying by several hundred,” the official said.

Some rule changes mean more Indians are eligible for the drop box to get a maintenance waiver. For example, those who had a US visa that expired within the last four years can use the drop box when applying for a new B-1 or B-2 visa. Students whose US visa has expired can also use the drop box under certain conditions.



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