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People seeking US visitor visa may have to wait till 2024 for appointment

The US State Department website showed that if a person from India applies for the visitor visa today, they will get an appointment only in March-April, 2024

US visa | Travel | student visa

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Similar to 9/11, the fear of flying has also hit business travel the hardest and it is expected to return the last — and only after a revival of leisure travel.

People seeking a US visitor visa may have to wait until 2024 for the appointment. The US State Department website showed that if a person from India applies for the visitor visa today, they will get an appointment only in March-April, 2024, a Times of India report stated.

The waiting time is longer in New Delhi as compared to Mumbai. In the national capital, one will have to wait 581 days to get an appointment. In Mumbai, the waiting period is 517 days. However, it is highest at 587 days in Kolkata.

The report said the main reason for long queues is the lack of staff. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the foreign missions had sent their staff back.

Also Read: US to process 800,000 visas in next 12 months, says American diplomat

But since the restrictions have eased, there has been a surge in demand and visa applications in India. The missions are yet to ramp up manpower to meet the rising demand.

The US embassy told ToI that they are stepping up hiring the staff. It is "actively addressing consular staffing gaps created by the pandemic, including by onboarding and training new employees".

The embassy is also prioritising certain types of visas, namely, for repeat and national interest.

"As part of this recovery, the is prioritising national interest and repeat travel (for applicants who have already had a US visa), which may mean that some travellers applying for their first visitor visa experience a longer wait time. Examples of priority groups include students, temporary agricultural workers, other workers and key business travellers," a US embassy official said.

However, the delay is not limited to the US. Visa applications are facing delays in the case of Canada, the UK, and Schengen states as well. Schengen states are a group of 26 European countries that have abolished their passports and work on one common visa.

"Majority of the European embassies are not even giving appointments for visas. Sweden is among the rare countries giving appointments. Similarly, one may get an appointment for September-end in Switzerland. VFS has a visa-at-home service for Austrian visas (for an extra charge). People are trying to get Schengen visas from these places," Travel Agents Federation of India joint secretary Anil Kalsi was quoted as saying by TOI.

However, the report added that most countries are now working to expedite the visa process, especially student visas.

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First Published: Thu, August 18 2022. 11:09 IST