Getting a visa to the US will now be easier for Indian business and leisure travellers.
The US Embassy has announced a slew of new measures to standardize visa procedure, including fee payment and scheduling of appointments which will now be facilitated through a new website.
Starting 26 September, US visa applicants will be able to pay application fees via electronic fund transfer (EFT), with their mobile devices or make cash payment at more than 1,800 Axis Bank branches. Applicants can also schedule their appointments online or by phone by contacting a call centre whose representatives will answer queries in English, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati and Telegu.
“It is our goal to make our visa process as efficient as possible to meet the increased demand for US visa worldwide…We are offering appointments by phone for the first time. The new global appointment schedule will offer group and expedited appointments,” Julia Stanley, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
The major difference from the current system was that first-time applicants will need to schedule two appointments – one for fingerprint collection at an offsite facilitation centre and one for consular interview at the embassy or consulate.
In March, the US mission in India introduced the interview waiver programme (IWP) that allows applicants who meet certain criteria to be considered for waivers of personal interviews. “Under IWP and our new processing system, an increasing number of applications will be able to complete all visa requirements without having to visit a US embassy or consulate at all,” Stanley said.