On 5th September, the United States Embassy announced that it is going to implement a new system for visa processing all over India to standardize procedures and further simplify the payment of fee and scheduling of appointment through a new website under the Global Support Strategy program. Minister Counsellor for Consular Affairs, Julia Stanley, announced that from September 26, 2012 U.S. visa applicants will be able to pay their fees through an Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or with their mobile phones.
The payment can also be done in cash at more than 1,800 Axis Bank Branches, and scheduling the appointments online or by phone is also possible.
Provisions like purchase of multiple fee receipts for group travel, including the scheduling of group and emergency appointments, is also allowed in the new processing system.
In case of inquiry, the customer care service is also available where the call center agents in Noida and Hyderabad will answer questions in Hindi, English, Punjabi, Gujarathi, Tamil, and Telugu. Facilities like email and internet chat is also provided to answer the queries of visa applicants.
The important part about the new system is that applicants will have to make two appointments prior to their visa interviews; one for the fingerprint and photo collection, and one for the consular interview.
To submit their photo and fingerprints, applicants will have to visit an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC).
OFC being independently located apart from the U.S. Embassy and Consulates, thereby reduces the congestion by easing the movement for visa applicants. This way the applicant processing is expedited. Most of the applicants will even not need to visit OFC more than once. Applicants who are renewing their visas will probably be able to skip this step.
In March, the Interview Waiver Program (IWP) was introduced in India by the U. S. Mission. It allows certain eligible applicants to be considered for waivers of personal interviews. The applicants who fall under the criteria will be able to skip the process of visiting U. S. Embassy or consulate at all.
The new processing system will also improve the delivery of documents (passports, visas, immigrant visa packets) by distributing them to various pick-up locations across India within a week at no charge. In this case, applicants will have to choose a delivery location when they schedule their appointments. They will be notified via email and/or SMS when their documents are ready to pick-up.
Apart from the processing system, everything else will remain the same – the fees, the standards and criteria and requirements to be met for appropriate visa class, the process of conducting interview by an American consular officer.
As U. S. Department of State continually works to improve the consular service to meet the ever growing visa demand in India, currently, it takes fewer than ten days for an applicant to get visa interview appointments.
As the U.S.-India relationship continues to grow, the United States looks forward to supporting and strengthening the people-to-people ties between the two countries by facilitating travel with secure and efficient visa processing.
Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is highly experienced in working with employment-based visas, adjustment of status, green cards, and PERM labor certification. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.
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