Cover photo: US Embassy in India
New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) Indians in the queue for US visas have been left fuming even as the American Embassy in New Delhi started a ’12 days of visas’ program to encourage people to apply for H and L visas.
A video clip shared by the Embassy on Tuesday — the first day of the program — said that there was a 17 per cent increase in the H and L visa applications and the waiting time for the same has been reduced.
“That’s tens of thousands of workers and families who have been able to reunite or start working in the US,” the video clip shared on Twitter stated.
Nevertheless, the announcement left many Indians, who have been facing long delays in obtaining visa interviews to travel to the US, fuming.
“While I love the idea of 12 days, you are not going to win any kudos on visas; So much business and tourism is backlogged due to the long delays in getting appointments. Getting Indian Visas for Americans is now so much easier and faster than having Indians get visas to the US,” Gunjan Bagla, a management consultant, tweeted in response to the Embassy announcement.
The wait time for visa appointments in India currently runs into more than 1,000 days.
The White House said last week that the administration is aware of the long delays and is working to respond to the “significant demand of these visa services”.
“How long will you guys make us wait? People in D Q after us received their interview letters after 4-5 months… and we are waiting for 10 months for our interview and still there is no clue that when we could get it. You guys just care about F1, H,L,B categories. What about us?” a fuming Kajal Arora wrote to the US embassy on Twitter.
Among the H and L, the H-1B and L-1 are among the most popular non-immigrant work visas in the US.In October this year, the US Embassy in India released over 1,00,000 appointments for H and L visas for workers and their families to cut down the wait time.
The Embassy also informed that in the first nine months of 2022, it had already processed over 1,60,000 H and L visas.
“Appreciate your efforts, but please keep in mind about B1/B2 visas as well. Many of the families, including mine, have to wait until mid 2025 to get an appointment to reunite with their family,” wrote Prasanth Balasubramanian, a medical doctor.
The US State Department said in November that the waiting period for B-1/B-2 candidates who need to be interviewed is 999 days in Mumbai, 994 days in Hyderabad, 961 days in Delhi, 948 days in Chennai, and 904 days in Kolkata.
Beginning this month, a presidential panel recommended the administration to consider issuing a memo to the US State Department to reduce visa appointment wait times to a maximum of two to four weeks for countries with heavy backlogs, like India.
Asserting that India is number one priority for Washington, a senior US embassy official had said last month that the processing time for visas is expected to mark a specific decrease by mid-2023.
It was reported in August that Indians who applied for American visas for travel or study purposes would have to wait until 2024 in order to successfully book a visitor visa appointment.
The final stage of the process to get a business or tourist visa to the US is an in-person interview.
Prior to that, an Indian citizen is required to furnish details about the visit’s purpose, proof that they can financially support themselves while in the US, work history and educational background, details about relatives who live in the US, etc.