Visa Clearance Conundrum for Indians: There’s Good News in the Offing
Travel restrictions, being a part of the COVID precautionary list, had brought the travel and tourism industry to a grinding halt during the pandemic and lockdowns. The scarcity of business during this period literally locked people from being mobile or traveling. After a lull, a sudden spike in the number of travel bookings and visa applications for the US and UK is on the rise.
Indian takes up 36% of world’s Work Visas
The UK issued 2,836,490 visas last year of which 25 percent went to India, more than to any other country. India also saw a swift hike (of 73 percent ) of student visas in 2021 while work visas witnessed a rise of 130 percent, nearly taking up 30 percent of the world’s demand for work visas. This demand for visas has been causing delays in student, business, job, travels along with visa renewals, especially in the US. According to a Visa official from the US, the number of applications have been steadily increasing and nearly 36 percent of this is from India.
This indicates that India is a source of tourists, students and also manpower for nations like the US and UK. The growing number of pending applications are causing a rift between the demand and supply. Apparently, the number of visa applications handled each day is higher than the number of people applying each day.
India-US diplomatic ties have also helped the US recognise the need to clear Indias’ visas swiftly. Embassies have also promised to prioritize India's visa delay issues and have started taking steps towards decreasing the waiting period with initiatives to cut down people’s wait time.
Some of the initiatives are:
The waiting period has been brought down by 58 percent, by cutting down 1000 days of clearance to 580 days and promising a further drop in the early summers.
Acknowledging that lack of staff being amongst the core reasons for delays.Increasing staffing and filling all positions to speed up the process and clear the backlogs is a step towards this.
With the motto of utilizing the resources in India’s neighboring countries, the consulates have also created an option for Indians to apply for appointment from a third country.
Incase of visa renewals the applicants can submit their request through a dropbox facility. The biometrics for the renewal will be used from the existing data of the US embassy.
US consulates also opened their consular operations on Saturdays in Indian cities. The initiative was taken to accommodate applicants who have been waiting for in-person interviews. In order to expedite the process they will be adding more slots to select saturday in the coming months.
With the US and UK supporting higher education through student visas and widening career opportunities by easing the visa process, this is set to be a win-win deal for its people and the nations.
(Author: Alisha Fernandes is an inquisitive learner & content writer at TechDoQuest)