Washington: As the US visa backlog in India goes up to more than a thousand days, the United States said it “certainly” understands “those frustrations”.
The US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken had assured months ago that the US would be reducing the visa backlog but instead of decreasing, the backlog sometimes went up to even 1,200 days.
“I can tell you that it is a priority of the Secretary and of the department to do everything we can to reduce that backlog and ultimately to reduce the wait times,” the US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told journalists here. He pointed out that the US embassy and consulates in India, in particular, broke their all-time record for the number of student visas issued in a single fiscal year. “We issued nearly 125,000 student visas,” he said.
Price, though, acknowledged that “some applicants may still face extended visa wait times”, and assured that the US was making “every effort to further reduce visa interview appointment wait times as quickly as possible in India and around the world, including for first-time tourist visa applicants”.
While claiming that the US had made “great strides” in recovering from pandemic-related closures and staffing challenges, Price acknowledged that it was “still working to respond to the significant demand for visa services”.
He said the demand for visa services had increased as pandemic restrictions eased in countries across the world and people looked for opportunities to travel to the United States.
“The US is committed to safeguarding national security while facilitating legitimate travel to nonimmigrant travellers, and we know that timely visa processing is essential to the U.S. economy and to the administration’s goal of family reunification,” he said.
Price, though, reiterated that the US was “successfully” lowering visa wait times worldwide. “We have doubled our hiring of U.S. Foreign Service personnel to do this important work. Visa processing is recovering faster than projected, and over the coming year, we expect to reach pre-pandemic processing levels. We issued more student visas in Fiscal Year 2022 than in any year since 2016,” he said.
– global bihari bureau