Five months after it was inaugurated, the US consulate in Hyderabad has started visa services, fulfilling a long-pending demand of visa seekers from Andhra Pradesh and boosting Hyderabad's image as an international business destination.
The consulate started partial functioning Wednesday, taking over 20 percent of the work being handled by the US consulate in Chennai.
Functioning from Paigah Palace, a heritage building in Begumpet near the old airport, the consulate will initially conduct 100 visa interviews a day. The number of daily visa applications will be increased to 400 next month.
The US consulate in Chennai is presently handling 500 applications every day for visas from Andhra Pradesh.
Consul General Cornelis M Keur said full consular services for US citizens would also be available in Hyderabad, according to a statement issued late Wednesday.
Officials said the opening of the facility would save 70,000 trips from Hyderabad and other parts of Andhra Pradesh every year to Chennai.
US Ambassador to India David C Mulford had formally inaugurated the consulate, the fourth in India after Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.
Then US president George W Bush, during his visit to Hyderabad in March 2006, had announced the setting up of the consulate.
"When we selected Hyderabad to be the host city to our new consulate general, we did so in clear recognition of its importance as a major social political and commercial centre. Hyderabad is a city that works," Mulford had said.
The US consulate, which will initially have 16 visa windows, will work out of the temporary facility for six years before moving into a proposed permanent facility to be built in Gacchibowli area at a cost of $60 million.
The state government has allotted 12 acres of land for the consulate in Gacchibowli, an area where several US giants including Microsoft have their campuses.
Out of about two million Americans of Indian origin, an estimated 400,000 hail from Andhra Pradesh.