US visa applications can be accepted outside India
With many travelers still years behind on getting their US visa appointment, the United States is making every effort to shorten this duration. In its latest initiative to cut the backlog, the US Embassy in India has announced that those planning a trip to the Americas can now apply for a business or tourist visa through the US embassy or consulate of another country.
Most people applying for US visas right now have over 500 days of wait time until their appointment. Citing the example of Thailand, the US embassy in India tweeted, “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.” Meanwhile, the embassy has also announced that applications to renew US visas can be submitted via file-hosting service Dropbox now, while clarifying that renewal requests would not be accepted via e-mails.
More than 1 lakh visa applications have been processed in the month of January alone this year, which is more than any month since July 2019, the mission noted.
The US embassy and its consulates in India are preparing to receive a fresh record number of visa applications from students, according to a PTI report. US embassy and consulates in India already broke their all-time record for the number of student visas issued in a single year in 2022, top US State department official Ned Price had earlier informed.
The country is also expecting other visa applications to increase – to around 1.2 million this year – making India the second-largest country for US visa ops after China, as per the PTI report.
The US has announced a series of initiatives to cut the backlog in visa appointments. The US Embassy in India today announced that some visa applicants will now be able to seek appointments in other countries.
The move is aimed at reducing the backlog, with the waiting period for a US visa as high as 800 days at some centers in India.
- The US embassy today said that Indians applying for a business or tourist visa will be able to apply for an appointment at embassies or consulates outside India.
- “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. (sic),” the US embassy India tweeted.
- The embassy cited Thailand as an example, saying that the country has the capacity for B1 and B2 visas.
- The US has also announced a series of other initiatives to cut the backlog in visa appointments, including increasing the strength of consular staff and organising special interviews for first-time applicants.
- During the Covid pandemic, a lot of the staff at the US embassies had been let go as the number of applications was low during that period. India was one of the very few countries where applications for US visas saw a major upswing after coronavirus-related travel restrictions were lifted.
- The US has announced that it will hire more staff by summer this year.
- People looking to renew their US visa can submit their application through a dropbox. Since their biometrics are already with the US government, they will not be asked to appear in person for another biometric evaluation.
- The US embassy and consulates are expecting to receive a record number of visas from Indian students this year and hence are working on a multi-pronged approach to cut backlog, according to John Ballard, the consular chief at the US Consulate General in Mumbai.
- The US embassy in Delhi and the consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad have also started conducting “special Saturday interview days” to aid first-time applicants.
- The US mission in India released more than 2,50,000 additional B1/B2 appointments two weeks ago.