The United States Embassy in India announced modifications to the U.S. visa application procedures effective September 26, 2012. The U.S. Embassy is introducing a new process to be followed by all U.S. visa applicants; these include H-1B and L-1 visa applicants as well as individuals applying for other type of visa for entry to the United States.
The New Visa Processing System
The new visa processing system will utilize a new website at www.ustraveldocs.com/in to further standardize procedures and to simplify fee payment and appointment scheduling. Through the new website, all visa applicants will be able to fill out the necessary application forms, find out what documents are required, pay visa application fees, schedule an appointment for biometrics collection, and schedule an interview at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
For the first time, the new system will also allow the applicants to schedule their appointments online or by phone. Visa applicants will be able to have their questions answered via telephone, email, or online chat. See the phone numbers and hours of operations. In addition, visa applicants will be able to pay application fees via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or via mobile phone. Applicants will also be able to pay in cash at more than 1,800 Axis bank branches.
Two Appointments Necessary
One important change is that under the new system, applicants will have to make two appointments. Prior to their visa interviews, applicants will have to visit an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to submit their fingerprints and a photo. Located at different locations from the Embassy and Consulates in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai, the OFCs will reduce overcrowding at U.S. consular facilities and speed applicant processing. Most applicants will need to visit an OFC only once.
Visa applicants who plan to apply for a U.S. visa before September 26, 2012, should follow the established process.
We welcome the changes the U.S. Embassy in India is implementing in hope that it would provide clearer process, faster turnaround time and fair adjudication. Our office supports a number of clients in their visa stamp applications and we are hopeful that the changes are positive.
As always, prior to submitting a visa application, please remember to check with the U.S. consulate regarding documentation requirements for the specific visa type. As the U.S. consulates in India are implementing the new application processes, we recommends that you stay flexible, and build in extra lead time to accommodate travel itineraries. Please feel free to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to obtain developments on this and related topics. If our office can be of any help, please feel free to contact us.