US authorities have announced streamlined visa procedures, including exemption from personal interviews, for certain visa categories, including business and tourism (B1 and/or B2), dependent (J2, H4, L2), transit (C) and/or crew member (D), including (C1/D), as it continues to streamline visa procedures.
Announcing this, in the capital, US ambassador to India Nancy J Powell said the motto is more jobs for both Indians and Americans, energy security, women entrepreneurship and greater bilateral ties between the two countries.
The US mission in India had, in March, unveiled an interview waiver programme (IWP), which allows qualified individuals to apply for additional classes of visas without being interviewed in person by a US consular officer.
''Following the success of the IWP, as part of continuing efforts to streamline the visa process, and to meet increased visa demand in India, the US mission is pleased to announce an expansion of the IWP,' the US embassy said in a statement issued today.
Under the current interview waiver program, Indian visa applicants who are renewing visas that are still valid or expired within the past 48 months may submit their applications for consideration for streamlined processing, including waiver of a personal interview, within the following categories:
- Children applying before their 7th birthday traveling on any visa class;
- Applicants applying on or after their 80th birthday traveling on any visa class;
Under the expanded program, the following Indian applicants may also be considered for streamlined processing:
- Children applying before their 14th birthday traveling on any visa class;
- Students returning to attend the same school and same programme;
- Temporary workers on H1-B visas; and
- Temporary workers on individual L1-A or individual L1-B visas.
The renewal application must be within the same classification as the previous visa. If the previous visa is annotated with the words ''clearance received,'' that applicant is not eligible for a waiver of a personal interview.
Not all applications will be accepted for streamlined processing. As always, consular officers may interview any visa applicant in any category. Applicants who are renewing their visas may still need to make an appointment for biometrics (fingerprint and photograph) collection, and all applicants must submit all required fees and the DS-160 application form.
This initiative is one of many steps the Department of State is taking to meet increased visa demand in India. In 2011, consular officers in India processed nearly 700,000 nonimmigrant visa applications, an increase of more than 11 per cent over the previous year. At present, applicants wait fewer than ten days for visa interview appointments and spend less than one hour at US consular facilities in India.
In September 2012, the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to India implemented a new visa processing system throughout India that further standardizes procedures and simplifies fee payment and appointment scheduling through a new website at www.ustraveldocs.com/in.