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US issues record-high 1.4 mn visas to Indians in 2023

New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) Bringing down the visitor visa appointment wait times by 75 per cent, the US Consular Team in India processed a record-smashing 1.4 million US visas in the year 2023.

Stating that the demand across all visa classes was unprecedented — with a 60 per cent increase in applications compared to 2022 — the US Embassy and Consulates said on Monday that Indians now represent one out of every 10 US visa applicants around the world.

In addition, visitor visas (B1/B2) rebounded to represent the second-highest number of applications in the US Mission’s history — over 700,000.

The US Embassy and Consulates said that it met this demand through a three-month staffing surge in Mumbai early in the year, by increased permanent staff levels, and through the employment of innovative technical solutions.

“Process improvements and investments in staffing have brought the appointment wait time for visitor visas down from an average of 1,000 days to only 250 days around the country. Wait times are minimal in all other categories,” the statement read.

Last year, the US consular team in India issued over 140,000 student visas — more than in any other country in the world setting a record for the third year in a row.

As of now, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Chennai stand as the top four student visa processing posts in the world.

With these surging numbers, Indian students have become the largest group of international graduate students in the United States and make up more than a quarter of the over one million foreign students studying in the country.

Stating that employment visas remain a top priority, the Embassy stated that in 2024, a pilot program will allow eligible H-1B holders to renew their visas in the United States, further streamlining the process for this group.

Further, Consular Team India consolidated most petition-based visa processing in Chennai and Hyderabad to increase efficiency.

This led to the processing of over 380,000 employment visas for Indians and their family members in 2023 and allowed the US Mission to maintain a minimal appointment wait time.

The Consulate General Mumbai eliminated a queue of over 31,000 immigrant visa cases delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Those who have a pending immigrant visa petition and are ready for scheduling can now obtain an appointment within the standard, pre-pandemic appointment window,” the Embassy stated.

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