Fri, 27th Jan 2012
New Delhi: The US is expecting nearly 14 per cent annual increase in visa applications from the country following implementation of streamlining of the application process as part of President Barack Obama's strategy to boost tourism from emerging countries like India and China.
"We expect 14 per cent year-on-year growth in visa processed between now and 2020. We expect visa application process to reach 2.1 million by year 2020," Minister-Counsellor for Consular Affairs in the US Embassy, James W Herman told reporters here.
He said rise will particularly come in tourist visas.
Last week, Obama had signed an Executive Order to make it easier for foreign travellers to visit the US and directed agencies throughout the US government to design a programme to make it easier for tourists to visit America.
"President Obama's executive order is quite exciting for us. It's a challenge to us to continue to innovate and find creative solutions. We have been very successful over the past five years in keeping visa waiting time down. We also minimise the time people spend in the counsellor. We want to make it easier for travellers to apply for a visa to visit the United States," Herman added.
According to US Embassy Consular fact sheet of the last five years, the US mission increased staffing by over sixty per cent and opened two new consulates in Hyderabad (in 2009) and Mumbai (in 2011).
Noting the importance of Indian travellers to the US, Herman said Indians represent the highest volume of work visa travellers and the second highest number of foreign students there.
He said 2011 was a record year for H1B work visas as over 68,000 applications were processed by Consular Team India alone.
"We continue to support the people-to-people ties which define the growing partnership between our nations," the US official said.
In 2011, close to 700,000 visa applications across the nation were processed, he said. Herman also talked about centralisation for processing of L-1 blanket visas.
The US visa for intra-company transfers, known as 'blanket' L visa, are now issued only from Chennai and not from four other places - New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad.
The US Embassy said the change was to streamline the blanket L visa issuance process and is part of the US government's ongoing effort to provide efficient visa services throughout India.