A diaspora body in the United States has launched an online campaign urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to reduce the waiting time for various types of American visas issued from India.
The Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies, or FIIDS, launched a petition campaign on change.org, a global nonprofit petition website, highlighting the disparity in wait times for visa appointments at US consulates in China.
“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,” said FIIDS
According to FIIDS, the average wait time at US consulates in China is three days.
Visa Wait Times in India
“The 900 days’ delay deprives Indian Americans and Indian immigrants in the USA of having their beloved relatives to visit, whether in 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 barriers to human mobility with the US, and the US promised to take action within a few months. External affairs minister S Jaishankar called it a critical issue because of its importance in education, technology, business, and family reunions.
According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he is “extremely sensitive” to the issue, and if it’s any consolation, this is a challenge that the US faces 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…”
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