Waiting period for US visas will sharply decline by mid-2023text_fields
New Delhi: The United States embassy said that the waiting period for issuing American visas is likely to be reduced significantly by mid-2023. The number of visas is estimated to reach about 1.2 million, PTI reported citing an embassy official.
The official said, "India is the number one priority for Washington (for issuance of visas). Our aim is to bring the situation to the pre-Covid-19 level by the middle of next year."
India has been one of the very few countries where applications for US visas saw a major upswing after coronavirus-related travel restrictions were lifted.
Considering the long wait time for the grant of visas, the US is also rolling out a series of initiatives, including the hiring of more personnel and increasing the "dropbox" facilities, the official said.
The plan is to issue around one lakh visas every month. Joe Biden's government has already identified H (H1B), and L category visas for Indians as its priority and nearly 1,00,000 slots were released recently for those wanting to renew the visas, the official said.
Further, he said that the wait time for certain categories has already been brought down to around nine months from earlier 450 days. The wait time for B1 and B2 (business and tourism) visas is also being brought down from around nine months.
According to an official, India is expected to move to the number two place from the current number three in terms of the number of visas being issued by the US. Currently, Mexico and China are ahead of India. Priority is also being accorded to cut the waiting time for the students' visas, especially for those looking for a renewal of their visas, he said.
The process used to apply for renewal of a US visa without a visa interview is known as the drop box facility.
Broadly, the applicants having a US visa within a span of the last four years are eligible for the drop box facility.
The US issued around 82,000 visas in the last one year.
"We are looking at 1.1 to 1.2 million visas to Indians by next summer," said the official.