US reduces visa backlog; appointments for Indians at overseas embassies
To clear the piling backlog for visa appointments, the United States Embassy in India announced on Friday that people will now be able to seek appointments through other American embassies and consulates in select countries. This is for Indians who are seeking business and tourist visas but aren't eligible for interview waivers, such as first-time applicants and whose visas expired over four years ago.
Why does this story matter?
- Notably, the waiting period for a US visa appointment is more than 500 days at most centers in India.
- As per the mandated limit, the country has already received a sufficient number of applications for granting H1-B visas for the fiscal year 2023.
- Many students and working professionals were sent home during the COVID-19 pandemic and are looking to return to the US.
Those traveling abroad may apply for visas in destination countries
The US Embassy in India tweeted that those traveling abroad may apply for an appointment at the US Embassy or Consulate in their destination country. It cited the example of Thailand, where the US Embassy in Bangkok has opened B1/B2 visa appointments for Indians planning to visit Thailand in the coming months, as the country has the capacity for business and tourist visas.
Thailand has the capacity for B1/B2 visas
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. pic.twitter.com/tjunlBqeYu— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) February 3, 2023
Waiting period in Bangkok 14 days, over 600 days here
The waiting period in Bangkok for B1/B2 visa interviews is merely 14 days, as compared to around 596 days in Delhi and 638 days in Mumbai, while it reached around 1,000 days last year. In Chennai, it is 617 days, while in Hyderabad, it is 609 days. Two weeks ago, the US Mission to India released more than 2.5 lakh additional B1/B2 visa appointments.
Highest-ever applications processed in a month in January
The US Mission in India processed over one lakh visa applications in January, the highest monthly total since July 2019. It is also looking to expand its consular capacity to reduce visa-processing delays. To assist first-time applicants, the US Embassy and Consulates in several Indian cities launched a series of "special Saturday interviews." Interview waivers for previous US visa holders are being processed remotely.