The US visa processing is bouncing back quicker than projected and is supposed to reach pre-pandemic levels in the Fiscal Year 2023, the State Department has said, tending to the developing worry over a backlog of visa applications from nations like India.
The State Department said it was focused on working with legitimate travel to the US while safeguarding public safety.
“The Department of State is effectively bringing down visa interview wait times around the world. We have multiplied our recruiting of US Foreign Service personnel to do this important work. US visa processing is bouncing back quicker than anticipated, and in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 we hope to arrive at pre-pandemic visa processing levels,” it said in a media note on Thursday.
Given the explanation for the delays, it said numerous candidates for US visas are expected by the country’s regulation to show up face to face. However, nearby pandemic-period limitations on public spots like our overseas consular sections curbed our ability to see visa candidates.
“This decreased the number of visa applications the Department could process. Since most nations have lifted limitations, 96% of our government offices and departments can give routine visa services,” it said.
“The combination of pent-up demand from the past two years joined with standard seasonal demand has resulted in extended wait times for U.S. visa interview appointments in certain areas – most notably for first-time visitor visa candidates and immigrant visa candidates in certain nations,” it added.
As of November 2022, the middle overall wait time for a tourist visa (B1/B2) interview appointment is around two months. And candidates with urgent travel needs who meet explicit rules can apply for an emergency appointment, usually available within days, it said.
US Visa Processing
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in his meeting with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in September. Raised the backlog of visa applications from India to which the top American diplomat said he is delicate to the matter and has the plan to address it.
“We are focused on continuing our progress and further lessening visa interview appointment wait times as quickly as possible,” it added.
The State Department said in the previous year, it has taken extraordinary steps. In getting back to pre-pandemic visa processing levels and lessening appointment wait times.
“We are waiving in-person interviews where conceivable while shielding public safety,” it said.
“We have essentially reduced wait times at numerous consulates and offices by working with the Department of Homeland Security. To extend our authority to waive in-person interviews for certain nonimmigrant visa categories. And some renewals while as yet guaranteeing public safety,” it said, listing what it has done so far.
Close to half of the almost 7,000,000 nonimmigrant visas we gave all around the world in FY 2022 were settled without an in-person interview, it said.
“We have surpassed pre-pandemic levels of processing in key visa categories that help the US economy. We gave 40% more H-2 visas for seasonal agricultural and nonagricultural workers in FY 2022 than in FY 2019,” the media note said.
This effort increases lawful immigration pathways and decreases irregular migration to our southern border. Further develops supply chain issues that contribute to inflation, and safeguards our nation’s food supply, it said.
“As of the end of FY 2022, we were at that point processing 94% of the nonimmigrant visas. We processed in FY 2019, and 130 percent of immigrant visas compared to FY 2019 monthly processing averages,” it added.
Pre-Pandemic Levels in FY 2023
The State Department said it continues to add more consular staff abroad. Yet meanwhile, it has implemented efficiencies to do more work with fewer resources, all while safeguarding national security.
“We are working as a worldwide group. We have utilized innovative technological solutions. To electronically redistribute nonimmigrant visa workloads from abroad posts. With high visa appointment wait times to different posts with extra capacity,” it said.
Every day, for instance, US consular officials in various areas of the world remotely adjudicate. A great many nonimmigrant visa applications for candidates from nations with long interview wait times. Who doesn’t need an interview, it said.
“This has allowed our consular officials in those nations to focus on first-time and other visa candidates who truly do require an interview. We are giving greater transparency to visa applicants.
The dedicated staff of the Department of State will continue with these and extra efforts to address the unprecedented demand. So the American people and US economy benefit from keeping our doors open to legal visitors, it added.
Indians make up an enormous proportion of the recipients of H-1B and other work visas. It is granted to skilled foreign workers, numerous in the tech industry.
As per travel.state.gov reports on October 31, there is an average of 900+ days’ wait time for appointments for visitors’ visas (B1/B2). Also, an average of 400 days wait time for students (F, M, J), and an average of 300 days wait time for petition-based temp workers. Like H, L, O, P, and Q across the US departments in India (Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Kolkata).