US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, paid a special visit to the US visa counter in Delhi to address the growing demand for US visitor visas. A video shared by the US Embassy in India captured the ambassador meeting with visa applicants and engaging with them.
In the video’s caption, the US Embassy playfully wrote, “The gang’s all here! Our consular team in New Delhi woke up early this weekend for a special ‘Super Saturday’ dedicated to meeting the unprecedented demand for U.S. visitor visas. We are seeing extra visa applicants with the help of Ambassador Eric Garcetti, our special guest fingerprinter!”
The increased demand for US visas is evident from the waiting periods for interview appointments. According to official data updated as of November 1, the current waiting period for interview appointments for American visas in the B1 and B2 categories (business and tourism) stands at 37 days in Delhi. The waiting period is considerably longer in other major Indian cities, with 322 days in Mumbai, 126 days in Kolkata, 341 days in Chennai, and 511 days in Hyderabad.
India has been one of the few countries where applications for US visas have witnessed a significant upsurge following the lifting of COVID-19-related travel restrictions. The high demand for US visas from Indian citizens reflects the strong people-to-people ties and business connections between the two nations.
The US Embassy in India recognizes this continued high demand for US visas and has been investing significantly in its operations to facilitate visa processing. In the past year, the mission has expanded its staffing to process more visa applications than ever before. It has also made substantial capital improvements to existing facilities, such as the US Consulate in Chennai, and recently inaugurated a new consulate building in Hyderabad.
To enhance efficiency and reduce waiting periods, the mission has introduced various strategies. This includes extending interview waiver eligibility to new visa categories and enabling staff from around the world to contribute to Indian visa processing through remote work. Furthermore, the mission is planning to launch a pilot program early next year that will allow qualified H&L-category employment visa applicants to renew their visas domestically.
These efforts underscore the commitment of the US Embassy to serving the growing demand for US visas in India. Last year, over 1.2 million Indians visited the United States, and Indians represent more than 10% of all visa applicants worldwide. This includes 20% of all student visa applicants and 65% of all H&L-category (employment) visa applicants.
Eric Garcetti’s visit to the Delhi visa counter demonstrates the importance of addressing the surge in visa applications and ensuring that Indian citizens can access US visas in a timely and efficient manner.