US visa delays: Online petition urging to reduce wait time in India launched
In the petition, the US-based diaspora body highlighted the contrast in wait times at the US consulates in China for visa appointments.
A US-based diaspora body has launched an online campaign urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to reduce the waiting time for various types of American visas being issued from India. Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies, or FIIDS, started a petition campaign on change.org, a worldwide nonprofit petition website, highlighting the contrast in wait times at the US consulates in China for visa appointments.
“We request the State Department, Secretary of State Mr Anthony Blinken and the US embassies in India to eliminate wait times for visa appointments in India,” the petition read.
"Even after a two-year-long Covid-era pause in visa appointments at the US embassies in India, the visa appointment situation is far from normal, requiring 300 to 900 days of wait time based on the visa types,” FIIDS said, adding that the US consulates in China only have an average 3 days wait time.
Citing the data from the US department of state travel, the diaspora body said that there is an average of over 900 days wait time for appointments for visitors’ visa(B1/B2) and an average of 400 days wait time for students (F, M,J). It also highlighted that petition-based temporary workers like H, L, O, P and Q have to wait for an average of 300 days for visa appointments across US consulates in India.
“The 900 days' delay deprives Indian Americans and Indian immigrants in the USA of having their beloved relatives to visit, whether in the time of difficulties, needs, or for celebrations, impacting their quality of life,” it said.
“The 400 days' wait time affects students joining the US universities, that not only impacts students’ future but also negatively impacts the US universities,” FIIDS said, adding, the 300 days' wait time is impacting productivity and success of various industries and businesses due to lack of skilled workers.
The online petition has received over 1,100 signatures at the time of writing this.
In September, India raised the issue of visa delays and hurdles in human mobility with the United States, while the US has promised action within a few months. External affairs minister S Jaishankar said that this was a crucial issue given its centrality to education, technology, business and family reunions. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he was “extremely sensitive” to the issue and if it was any consolation, this was a challenge the US was facing around the world.
“It is a product largely of the pandemic. Our ability to issue visas dropped dramatically during Covid. This is a self financing part of the State Department…When Covid hit, the demand for visas fell..the system as a whole suffered..”