Visas for US will now be easier on the pocket. The American government has abolished the 50-dollar visa issuance fee charged to Indian citizens, the U.S Ambassador to India David C Mulford announced on Thursday.
Now applicants are only being charged the processing fee of 100 dollars, Consular Section Chief Glen Keiser told reporters in Mumbai. Back in 2003, the issuance fee was reduced form 75 dollars to 50 dollars. Now, with the fees completely gone, the cost down by 33 percent.
This move is a matter of “reciprocity”, explained Keiser. The US government has been monitoring what Americans are charged for visas to particular countries to determine the appropriate visa fees. “On average, an American pays only 100 dollars to get a visa to India. So, the government felt we could eliminate the issuance fee,” he said.
The reduction in costs is part of a drive to make the process of getting visas simpler for Indians. “Prior to September, if someone wanted a visa to go for a honeymoon, he could have been made to wait for up to six months for an appointment,” said Keiser. Now anyone can log on to www.vfs-usa.co.in and get an appointment within a week.
Since the consulate in Mumbai increased staff strength and visa appointments in September to eliminate the backlog, it has been processing almost 1400 applications a day as opposed to 500 earlier. With this jump, Mumbai is rivaling Mexico and Seoul, the two busiest visa-processing posts in the world where 1500 applications are processes daily.
At present, Mumbai is the 12th busiest non-immigrant visa processing post in the world. Consular officials say the day when it could soon be the busiest.