US visa processing time set to drop significantly by mid-2023
On Thursday, a senior United States (US) embassy official said the wait for US visas is reportedly set to normalize by mid-2023. Considerable progress has also been made through changes in the regulations and the opening of 100,000 H and L work visas. So far, the US has already issued 82,000 student visas for India in 2022.
Why does this story matter?
- As the COVID-19 pandemic struck, numerous students and working professionals were sent home.
- All respective organizations still need to recall all staffers and resume operations in full flow.
- In August, the US embassy said in a statement that the Department of State had doubled consular hiring and were training new employees.
Washington reveals its new focus for India
The focus now switches to lowering the wait for non-immigrant work visas like the H and L categories, including the B-1 business visa, B-2 tourism visa, coveted H-1B visas and visas for shipping airlines and companies crews. The total number of US visa applications is projected to hit around 1.2 million in 2023, with India reportedly being the number one priority for Washington.
US visa waiting time for Indians
A US-based diaspora group had kick-started an online campaign encouraging the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, to shorten the waiting time for various types of US visas issued from India. The average visa appointment waiting time on the official US state department's site shows New Delhi's first-time applicants for B-1 and B-2 visas are around 925 days.
Visa demand catches US authorities off-guard
"India is the number one priority for Washington now...There are lots of applicants in all categories only in India, and that's why it's a priority," the US official stated, while adding that experts were not prepared for the rate at which the visa demands came in post-pandemic. The official also revealed that the experts had expected a substantial increase in demand only in 2025.
India only behind China, Mexico in number of visas
India will move up to second, from third, in terms of the visas issued by the United States, as per the official. China and Mexico are ahead of India, with the US' initial focus being applicants using the "drop box" process. The procedure used to apply for renewing a US visa without undergoing an interview is known as the "drop box" facility.