US issued record 1.4 million visas to Indians in 2023

Appointment wait time for visitor visas down by 75 per cent, reveals US Embassy

By PTI

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US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti with Indian students who were handed-over passport visa during the annual Student Visa Day event at the US Embassy in New Delhi on June 7, 2023. — PTI
US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti with Indian students who were handed-over passport visa during the annual Student Visa Day event at the US Embassy in New Delhi on June 7, 2023. — PTI

Published: Mon 29 Jan 2024, 9:19 PM

The US processed a record 1.4 million visas to Indians in 2023, bringing down visitor visa appointment wait times by 75 per cent, the US Embassy said on Monday.

There was a 60 per cent increase in visa applications from Indians compared to 2022.

Process improvements and investments in staffing have brought down appointment wait times for visitor visas from an average of 1,000 days to only 250 days around the country while wait times are minimal in all other categories, it said.

"In 2023, the US Embassy and Consulates in India processed a record-smashing 1.4 million visas, bringing down visitor visa appointment wait times by 75 per cent. Demand across all visa classes was unprecedented, with a 60 per cent increase in applications compared to 2022. Indians now represent one out of every 10 US visa applicants around the world," the Embassy said in a statement.

Visitor visas (B1/B2) have rebounded to represent the second highest number of applications in the US Mission's history at more than 700,000.

"The US Embassy and Consulates met this demand through a three-month staffing surge in Mumbai early in the year, by increased permanent staff levels and through the employment of innovative technical solutions. 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. Wait times are minimal in all other categories," it said.

In 2023, the US consular team in India issued more than 140,000 student visas -- more than in any other country, setting a record for the third year in a row.

"Taken individually, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai now stand as the top four student visa processing posts in the world. As a result of these surging numbers, Indian students have become the largest group of international graduate students in the United States and make up more than a quarter of the over one million foreign students studying in the United States," the US Embassy said.

"Employment visas remain a top priority. Consular team in India consolidated most petition-based visa processing in Chennai and Hyderabad to increase efficiency, leading to the processing of over 380,000 employment visas for Indians and their family members in 2023 and allowing the US Mission to maintain a minimal appointment wait time," it added.

The US Embassy also said a pilot programme will streamline the renewal process for H1B visa holders in 2024.

"In 2024, a pilot programme will allow eligible H1B holders to renew their visas in the United States, further streamlining the process for this group," it added.

The US Embassy said the Consulate General, Mumbai, eliminated a queue of more than 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 US Mission continues to invest in the future of consular services in India and explore ways to provide more efficient and convenient services," the statement said.

"These investments have included the opening of a new $340 million facility in Hyderabad in March 2023, the announcement of two new consulates in Ahmedabad and Bengaluru, continued capital improvements to our facilities around the country, and the permanent assignment of more consular officers to India," it added.


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