In a significant move to address visa delays, the United States has taken proactive measures by increasing staff strength and opening new consulates in India. US Ambassador Eric Garcetti confirmed that the expansion aims to reduce waiting times for visa issuance, with consulates established in Hyderabad and upcoming ones in Ahmedabad.
During an interactive session organized by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Garcetti shared insights into the efforts to streamline the visa process. He mentioned the recent inauguration of the Hyderabad consulate and revealed plans for new consulates in Ahmedabad and Bengaluru. The objective is to bolster staff capabilities and enhance operational efficiency.
Acknowledging the challenges posed by a surge in visa applications, Garcetti expressed optimism, stating that the US embassy is expected to issue 10-15% more visas than usual in the current calendar year. He noted a recent one-third increase in the number of visas issued in India, signaling positive momentum in addressing the delays.
The visa delays, primarily attributed to the high volume of applicants, have been a shared concern with other large countries like Mexico and Brazil, according to the Ambassador. To alleviate this, the Biden administration expanded the visa waiver program and introduced measures to expedite the processing of applications.
The US Embassy’s commitment to addressing the backlog was evident in its announcement that the India team processed more visa applications in 2023 than in any previous year. This proactive approach is aimed at ensuring timely services for students, workers, tourists, and others, particularly in preparation for the upcoming busy holiday travel season.
The Biden administration’s initiatives also include measures benefiting Indian professionals, such as waiving the requirement for them to leave the US for H-1B visa renewal. These steps align with a broader effort to strengthen bilateral ties, emphasizing the significance of streamlined visa processes for fostering positive diplomatic relations.
As discussions on visa issuance took center stage during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, the recent developments underscore a commitment to fostering smoother interactions between the two nations.