US Embassy in India and Consulates have issued 50 per cent more visas this year than in the same period before the pandemic according to Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Julie Stufft. Speaking at a town hall with Indian communities in the United States she said there is no other country in the world where that was happening.
The Town hall was organized the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs and Bureau of Consular Affairs and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on inter agency efforts to improve the efficiency and reduce wait times in immigrant and non-immigrant visa processes.
Along with Stufft, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for India, Bureau of South and Central Asia Affairs, Nancy Izzo Jackson, Senior Advisor to the Director of USCIS, Douglas Rand and Chief of Staff, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA), Richa Bhala addressed the event.
In her opening remarks, Assistant Secretary Jackson lauded the US – India relations saying, “President Biden and Secretary Blinken call our relationship with India one of our most consequential global relationships. Our bilateral Partnership cut across our most crucial global strategic priorities in defense, economic and trade to security, health and space, critical emerging technology and our ever growing people to people ties reflecting the importance of this relationship.”
Jackson further said, she was aware of the Indian community’s concerns about the visa situation and had learned more during her interaction with the Indian community in the US. She appreciated the ideas, support and patience expressed by the community and stressed that the government worked hard over the past year to find solutions.
“We are proud that all wait times for all visa categories except first time tourist and business Visa are back to overall pre pandemic levels and express commitment to address the concerns and bring down the wait times in all categories,” she maintained.
In the same direction, Stufft highlighted he various measures brought in place to reduce wait times including creating new positions to increase visa processing capacity and policy to waive of visa interviews for certain students and workers with approved petitions, which benefited more than 30,000 Indians.
In his address, Rand shared his department’s initiatives to address the immigration issues linked to the Indian community. He cited statuary and procedural limitations to address the issues.
During the event, the US government representatives also addressed queries on different categories of Visas including H-1B Visa and green card linked issues. Replying to a query on H-1 B visa holders’ options to stay in the country beyond 60 days after losing a job, the USCIS official shared all the available options that can be explored to extend their stay beyond the sixty days in the US to find new employment.