Biden urged to consider issuing memo to State Dept to reduce visa appointment wait time


PTI, Dec 9, 2022, 8:19 AM IST

A presidential commission has recommended President Joe Biden to consider issuing a memo to the State Department to reduce the visa appointment wait times to a maximum of two to four weeks for countries like India with significant backlogs.

Non-immigrant visa, visitor visa (B1/B2), student visa (F1/F2), and temporary worker visa (H, L, O, P, Q) appointments with embassies in specific Asian countries and Pacific Islands, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal, and other countries, have extraordinarily long backlogs.

In the case of India, it has now crossed more than 1,000 days resulting in hardship to Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) families inside the US and abroad, as well as major disruptions for students, businesses, and visitors.

The US Embassy has earlier said that the wait time for non-immigrant visa applicants has gone up due to reduced workforce and coronavirus-related restrictions in operations since March 2020.

During its meeting this week, the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders made a set of recommendations to the White House to reduce the growing delay in visa appointment times in US embassies globally, especially in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and other countries.

Moved by eminent Indian American community leader Ajay Jain Bhaturia, the presidential commission recommended that Biden should consider issuing a memo to the State Department to reduce the visa appointment wait times to 2-4 weeks maximum for countries with significant backlogs, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other countries in similar situations.

It recommended that the State Department should take all necessary steps in order to speed up the visa processing in embassies abroad and reduce the visa appointment wait times to 2-4 weeks maximum for India and other impacted embassies.

The State Department should allow for virtual interviews where applicable and allow staff from embassies around the world and US consular staff to help conduct virtual interviews to reduce high backlogs, it recommended.

The commission recommended that the State Department should hire new full-time officers, temporary staff, and contractors, or bring back retired consular officers to clear the backlog at relevant embassies in Asia which have wait times of over a month, prioritising those with 300+ days wait times, and reduce the wait time to two-four weeks by clearing the visa appointment backlog.

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