The US Consulate in Hyderabad opened consular operations on Saturday to accommodate applicants seeking in-person visa interviews and, in the coming months too, it will continue to open additional slots for appointments on select Saturdays.
The operations were open in the US Embassy in New Delhi as well as at all other consulates in the country. This is being done as part of a larger effort to reduce wait time for first-time visa applicants.
These additional interview days are just one component of a multi-pronged initiative to address the backlog in visa processing caused by COVID-19 pandemic, a press release said. The US Department of State has implemented remote processing of interview waiver cases for applicants with previous US visas. Between January and March 2023, dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will arrive in India to increase processing capacity.
To expedite visa issuance and create more slots, the number of consular officers will also be increased and permanently assigned to the Embassy and Consulates. By this summer, the U.S. Mission in India will be at full staffing and processing visas is expected at levels from prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As travel restrictions have been lifted, the U.S. Mission to India has made it a priority to facilitate legitimate travel and adjudicated over 8 lakh non-immigrant visas in 2022, including record number of both student and employment visas. In every other visa category, interview wait time in India are at pre-pandemic levels or lower.
The statement further added that more than 2.5 lakh additional B1/B2 appointments were released in India and the Consulate General, Mumbai, also extended its weekday operating hours to make space for additional appointments.