If you’re applying for a US visa for the first time, you will now have to set aside two days for formalities.
The US Embassy on Wednesday announced a new visa processing system which will come into effect on September 26.
Under the new system, first-time applicants will need to seek two appointments – one for registering fingerprints and photo collection, and one for the consular interview.
Applicants’ fingerprints will be collected at an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) prior to the visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate.
“This could mean two appointments on two separate days. We are working to shorten this to one day, but at this point, we cannot say with certainty when that will happen,” said Julia Stanley, minister counselor for consular affairs, in a press statement.
“The OFCs will be located at convenient locations separate from the embassy or consulates, to reduce congestion and speed applicant processing.”
However, making payments and scheduling appointments is set to become easier, under the new process.
Applicants will be able to pay application fees via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or with their mobile phones and pay in cash at more than 1,800 Axis bank branches.
For the first time, applicants can log on to www.ustraveldocs.com/in and schedule their appointments online or on the phone.
Available in English and Hindi, the website will answer questions on how to apply for a visa and applicants can fill forms, find out about required documents, pay visa application fees, schedule an appointment for biometrics collection and schedule an interview at a US embassy or consulate.
Within an hour of fee payment, applicants will receive a text message regarding activation of the fee receipt and can proceed with scheduling appointments.
Also, passports, visas, immigrant visa packets and other documents will be delivered to 33 document pick-up locations across India within a week at no charge and at the location selected by the applicant.
“Using our website, they can track the progress of their application. When their documents are ready for pick-up, they will be notified via email and/or SMS,” said Stanley.