Wait times for Indian travelers to the USA, which currently stand at over 18 months, are set to be drastically reduced thanks to a series of new initiatives from the US embassy and its consulates in India.
Since the Coronavirus pandemic swept across the world in 2020, visas for anyone looking to enter the United States have been hard to come by quickly. Still, the issue has been ever more severe for those coming from India.
Officials have been attempting to worth through the backlog created by Covid-19, but under the current regime, they have been struggling. As such, even Indians who have been living and working in the USA for many years have been left waiting to find out whether they will be able to stay in the country.
In a statement on the US embassy’s website, the Mumbai Consular Chief John Ballard addressed the evolving situation and said:
“Our consular teams across India are putting in the extra hours to meet the needs of international travelers and bring down wait times. This is part of a mission-wide effort to find innovative solutions to facilitate travel to the United States.”
The Current State of the Situation
The visa backlog is a problem not only for Indians looking to live and work in the USA but also for those simply looking to travel there, whether for a short-term vacation or visiting family and friends in the country.
For some Indians who have family in the US, they won’t have seen them since before the pandemic despite applying for visas years ago. The current wait time is 60-280 days for those applying for work visas but nearly two years for those looking to visit.
Remarkably, this is an improvement on what the wait times were this time last year. In 2022, some Indians had been waiting for three years to receive visas from the US embassy.
It is unclear why the situation is so much worse for Indians than travelers from other countries. For example, on average, European travelers only have to wait 20 days to receive their visas from the embassy, while for Asian applicants, the wait time is around 30-35 days.
Regardless of the reasons, the situation must be resolved sooner rather than later. Not only does the US want to avoid losing out on valuable tourism money from one of the most populated countries in the world, but they also don’t want to lose out on potential business from Indian companies wanting to set up base there.
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A Work In Progress
While there is an acceptance that patience is required, the US embassy has at least stated that new initiatives will be rolled out to reduce these wait times.
For starters, its embassies in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad are now open on Saturdays to help applicants unable to attend in-person visa interviews during the week due to work commitments. In Mumbai specifically, later opening hours on weekdays will also be introduced.
To ensure this is possible, the US State Department will hire and send over several permanent consular officers to India. These officers will be assigned to the different embassy’s across the country to help deal with the high demand for visas.
In a statement, the US embassy confirmed that “the US mission to India has made it a priority to facilitate legitimate travel and adjudicated over 800,000 non-immigrant visas in 2022, including record numbers of student and employment visas.”
This article was produced and syndicated by The Impulse Traveler.