The United States embassy in India is probably going to process around 8 lakh visas throughout the next 12 months, a senior diplomat said in Chennai on Tuesday.
Addressing reporters here, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US embassy, Donald L Heflin said, “8,00,000 visas are projected to be given in the next 12 months.. we opened a lot of slots for processing the visas.. we think of eventually meeting the demand of H and L visas.”
Asked about the total number of visas given before the outbreak of Covid-19, he said 1.2 million visas were given. He also expressed hope that the visa processing would reach pre-Covid-19 levels sometime in 2023 or 2024.
“Pre-Covid-19 1.2 million visas were given. We desire to reach that level sometime in 2023-24..,” Heflin told PTI.
The US to process 8 lakh visas in the next 12 months
The consular offices were also ramping up staffing across India. And the visa processing would be supported by the rise in headcount at these offices.
“.. Visa processing was done by 50% of the staff (because of Covid-19).. we will be adding more employees to our workplaces..” “We are opening a new big building in Hyderabad. We are adding more staff in New Delhi, and Mumbai. As of now, there is 100% staff in Kolkata,” he noted.
To a question about the consulate setting up a dedicated helpline to address questions raised by visa candidates. The Minister Counselor said every one of the consulates as of now has a dedicated telephone number. As well as an email address that visa candidates can contact for help with their appointments.
Questioned whether Indian visas were ‘put on hold’ because of the Covid-19 pandemic. He said, ‘not that high (number of visas were put on hold).. but keep an eye. As we are going to make more announcements on student visas in the coming weeks.