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US Visa Crunch: Embassy Says 1 Lakh Appointments in Next Few Weeks, to Call Temporary Staff

By: News Desk

Edited By: Shankhyaneel Sarkar

News18.com

Last Updated: September 30, 2022, 08:08 IST

New Delhi

The US embassy in Delhi said staffing at embassies across the country will return to pre-Covid levels in less than a year (Image: Reuters/ Representative Image)

The US embassy in Delhi said staffing at embassies across the country will return to pre-Covid levels in less than a year (Image: Reuters/ Representative Image)

The embassies across India are now taking steps to reduce the waiting time and the backlog caused by Covid

The minister counselor for consular affairs at the US embassy in New Delhi, Don Heflin said staffing at US consulates will return to pre-Covid levels in less than a year and for the time being temporary staff and drop boxes are being set up to reduce the long wait times, the Times of India reported.

The long wait times for visas across all categories in India’s US embassies and consulates has baffled Indian students, visitors and tourists who plan to visit the US.

He also said for the H and L worker visa categories 1 lakh appointments will be opened within the next few weeks. The officials attributed the long waiting period to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Heflin said at the height of the pandemic the US consulates and embassies had about 50% of the (visa staffing) than it normally has and currently 70% staffers are available. He said 100% staffing will be achieved around this time the next year or slightly earlier, at which point the embassies and consulates will have to manpower to handle the volume of applications.

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Heflin said Washington will send temporary staff to the embassies as well temporary staff will be also called in from other big embassies. He said between now and next summer the embassies will come to a point where they can handle more applications.

The embassy official also admitted that the wait time for B1 (business) and B2 (visitor) visas is one of the longest for Indian applicants. The appointment wait time for all major Indian embassies is more than 800 days at least, with wait times at Mumbai and Delhi being 848 and 833 days, respectively.

Heflin said the officials are working to reduce the waiting time for this as well. He said there will still be wait times but the embassies will work towards resolving those issues.

Even Indians working in the US are unable to visit home as they need to get their passports stamped before they return to the US. The embassy said that they sympathize with those citizens and one lakh appointments for this category of visas will be opened within the next few weeks.

Heflin also said that the visa operation at the US consulate in Mumbai is working towards reducing the backlog. He expects that waiting times for the consulate in Mumbai will return to pre-Covid levels within the next year.

(with inputs from the Times of India)

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first published:September 30, 2022, 07:39 IST
last updated:September 30, 2022, 08:08 IST