The US has at last made interview times available for new visa applicants after a two-year gap. Don Heflin, the minister counsellor for consular affairs at the US embassy in New Delhi, asserted that this is the first occasion when the United States has received more Indian students than any other country in the globe.
As addressed in the last news, US visa appointments were open but applicants face significant wait times due to high demand, the US has now made a decision to reopen the visa slots for Indians.
In response to queries on visa availability, Heflin stated that the US Embassy would open 100,000 slots for the H and L worker visa categories over the next weeks and would resume US student visa interviews in the middle of November 2022.
One lakh appointments will be made available for worker visa categories H and L in the coming weeks, he added.
The official acknowledged that Indian applicants have one of the longest wait times for B1 (business) and B2 (visitor) visas. All significant Indian embassies have appointment wait times of at least 800 days, with wait durations in Mumbai and Delhi reaching 848 and 833 days, respectively.
Heflin provided an explanation for the prolonged visa waiting period, citing staff reductions during Covid-19. He assured that the embassy would increase personnel to reduce B1 and B2 visa wait periods.
This follows concerns over lengthy visa wait times that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was made aware of by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar earlier this week.
Heflin concluded by saying that they are well underway in repairing their staffing problems caused by Covid and post-Covid. They only had around half the number of visa staff members they required during the peak raging of Covid and for a bit following.
Presently, they have recovered around 70% of the staff members. They will be going to reach a staffing level of almost 100% before this time next year. As per him, by the end of 2023, they will be able to manage roughly cent per cent of the applications they received following the Covid-19 outbreak.
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