By India Today Web Desk: The wait time for issuance of US visas is expected to see a significant fall by summer 2023 and is likely to move towards normalcy by summer next year, according to a senior US embassy official in New Delhi.
There are four categories of US visas, which include student visas, work visas, tourist visas, and visas required for marine crews. All of these categories have waiting periods and backlogs.
“After students, our next big case is H&L (IT workers’ visa – H1B falls under this). We have opened up 100,000 slots here. This brought the wait time down by half,” said the embassy official.
Officials have stated that they are expecting Indian visa applications to surpass those from China by next year and take the second spot worldwide after Mexico. The current wait time for drop-box visa applications (visas that do not require an interview) is about nine months, and measures are being taken to reduce the waiting period.
The senior embassy official also claimed that for Washington, India is the top priority in terms of visa applications. The reason cited for the current backlogs is due to Covid, which led to troubles in onboarding, vetting, and transferring councillor staff.
The staff is also required to be trained in 5–6 Indian languages, which is time-consuming, and by summer 2023, the US Embassy will have 100 per cent councillor staff, which will be the highest in 10-12 years.
The US embassy also plans to accommodate a 10 per cent growth in visa applications for students this year. The US embassy in India also went 10 per cent above 2021 for students.
Currently, the focus is on clearing the backlog, and due to the current staff shortage, the embassy has set up temporary vice counsels and plans to have 100 per cent permanent vice counsels.
“Amount of visas we are handling every day is higher than those applying. Positive step. This will rise as we get to 100 per cent staff by next year,” said the senior US embassy official.