US sets visa-processing record amid rising demand from India, appointment wait time down by 75%

The US Embassy and Consulates in India processed 1.4 million visas in 2023, with a 75% reduction in appointment wait times despite increased demand. Indians make up one-tenth of all US visa applicants globally.

Livemint
First Published29 Jan 2024
Indians now represent one out of every ten US visa applicants around the world.
Indians now represent one out of every ten US visa applicants around the world.(Representational photo)

The US Embassy and Consulates in India processed a whopping 1.4 million visas during 2023. Appointment wait time dropped by 75% even as the country saw an unprecedented rise in demand for visas across all classes. Indians now represent one out of every ten US visa applicants around the world.

The US government saw a 60% increase in applications over the past year, meeting demand with a three-month staffing surge in Mumbai. New Delhi set a student visa record for the third year in a row with more than 140,000 such documents greenlit in 2023. Indian students have now become the largest group of international graduate students in the US, making up more than a quarter of the over one million foreign students studying in the country.

“Visitor visas (B1/B2) have rebounded to represent the second highest number of applications in the U.S. Mission’s history – over 700,000. Process improvements and investments in staffing have brought the appointment wait time for visitor visas down from an average of 1,000 days to only 250 days around the country,” read an official communique from the US Embassy.

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The developments come even as the US government preps to launch a pilot programme that will allow eligible H1B holders to renew their visas in the United States. Employment visas remain a top priority with officials consolidating most petition-based visa processing in Chennai and Hyderabad to increase efficiency. More than 380,000 employment visas for Indians and their family members were processed in 2023. Meanwhile the Mumbai Consulate eliminated a queue of over 31,000 immigrant visa cases delayed by the pandemic.

“Those who have a pending immigrant visa petition and are ready for scheduling can now obtain an appointment within the standard, pre-pandemic appointment window,” the official document adds.

(With inputs from agencies)

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