US Travel Visa: Almost 850-Day Wait For New Delhi, Just 2 Days For Beijing

New Delhi: There is a prolonged waiting period in getting a visa to travel to the US compared to countries such as China and Pakistan. The visa applicants need to wait for more than two years just to secure an appointment, a US government website showed, while the timeline is just two days for countries like China.

There’s an appointment wait-time of 833 days for applications from Delhi and 848 days from Mumbai for a visitor visa, according to the US State Department website. In comparison, if you intend to travel to Beijing, the waiting-time is only two days, and 450 days for Islamabad.

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For student visas, the wait time goes up to 430 days for Delhi and Mumbai. Interestingly, it’s only one day for Islamabad, and two for Beijing. Earlier this week, external affairs minister S Jaishankar raised the issue of backlog of visa applications from India with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for the situation and said the United States had a plan to address it.

“On the question of visas, I’m extremely sensitive to this,” Blinken said while responding to a question on the historic delays in visa appointments. “Bear with us. This will play out over the next few months, but we’re very focused on it,” Blinken added.

The US Secretary of State blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for the backlog of visa applications from Indian nationals. “If it’s any consolation, I can tell you that this is a challenge that we’re facing around the world and it’s a product largely of the COVID pandemic. Our ability to issue visas dropped dramatically during Covid,” he said, according to the news agency PTI report.

“When COVID hit, the demand for visas fell through the floor, visa fees went away, the system, as a whole, suffered. And then of course, in actually issuing visas, even with much more limited resources, we had constraints from COVID about the number of people we could have in our embassies at any one time, etc,” he added.

There are attempts from US visa services in clearing a backlog after it halted almost all visa processing worldwide in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Indians make up a large proportion of the recipients of H-1B and other work visas granted to skilled foreign workers, many in the tech industry.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

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