American embassies, consulates plan to process 'record' number of visas for Indians in 2023

While American visa wait times continue to be excruciatingly long, with travel visas taking well over a year, Mumbai Consular Chief John Ballard has stated that his office plans to process a “record” number of visas for Indians this year. Wait times for Indians applying for work visas range from 60 to 280 days, according to the country’s external affairs ministry, which has raised the issue on several occasions. Last year, American embassies and consulates in India issued over 1,25,000 student visas, a record number for Indians, with similar numbers expected this year, if not more. “Last year, we adjudicated over 8,00,000 total visa adjudications, and we are almost back to pre-pandemic levels, which we expect to surpass in 2023,” Ballard told PTI. The embassy is working to reduce wait times for first-time B1 and B2 tourist and business visas. “We recently opened up 2.5 lakh B1/B2 visa appointments across India, and we have dozens of officers who have come from embassies all over the world and Washington DC specifically to help us conduct interviews for first-time B1/B2 applicants,” said the Mumbai consular chief.

Furthermore, applicants for visa renewals can now submit their applications via e-mail, and the embassy has arranged for embassies around the world to adjudicate those cases, allowing them to focus on conducting interviews for first-time applicants. “Adjudications are just one of the many initiatives that we are currently undertaking to help reduce the backlog for visa wait times,” Ballard said. The Mumbai Consular Chief anticipates that new measures, such as increased staffing and additional working days, will assist the embassy in issuing even more visas this year. “We recently opened all of our consulates on a Saturday, and we will do so again in February and March, and we will also be fully staffed by the end of the summer. So we would look to do even more initiatives in the future to find ways to reduce the wait time backlog. With these initiatives, we expect to process a record number of visas this year “Ballard explained. Furthermore, Ballard emphasized that visa issuances and refusals for any visa category depending on the individual applicant and the type of visa they are applying for. “B1/B2 visa applicants must be able to demonstrate the purpose of their visit to the United States as well as their ties to India that would ensure their return,” he added.

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