Glad to see steps being taken to reduce wait times for visa applicants in India: US lawmaker

WASHINGTON, Jan 25: A top US Congresswoman has lauded the slew of measures initiated by the Biden administration to reduce the massive backlog in visa processing applications in India, especially for those applying under B1/B2 categories, saying such a long wait time was “unacceptable.”
India was one of the few countries where applications for US visas saw a major upswing after coronavirus-related travel restrictions were lifted.
Last week, the US sent a cadre of consular officers to India and opened up overseas embassies in Germany and Thailand to expedite Indian visa applicants.
Grace Meng, who is a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations and a member of the Congressional Caucus on India, said: “I’m glad to see that steps are being taken to reduce wait times for visa applicants.”
Meng, 47, is the first and only Asian member of Congress from New York State.
“This move will significantly help businesses and families who are waiting for the arrival of workers and loved ones from India. It is unacceptable that the wait time for visas has been so long, and in Congress, I have pushed for these delays to be addressed,” she said.
There have been growing concerns in India over the long waiting period for first-time visa applicants, especially for those applying under B1 (business) and B2 (tourist) categories.
The waiting period for first-time B1/B2 visa applicants in India was close to three years in October last year.
The US has one of the largest visa operations in the world.
“The US and India continue to share a special bond, and this initiative to reduce backlogs will further strengthen the strong relationship that exists between our two great countries,” Meng said.
India broke the record for most student visas last year and it may do so again this year, Meng said, adding that India is now number two in the world in terms of international students coming to the United States.
The wait time for an interview for work visas – such as H-1B and L1 visas — has gone down from 18 months to about 60 days.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
Indians make up many of the recipients of H-1B and other work visas granted to skilled foreign workers, many in the tech industry. (PTI)