"The ties between our people are stronger than ever," said US Ambassador to India.
The US Mission to India has exceeded its target by processing over one million non-immigrant visa applications this year. US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti personally handed over the one millionth visa to an Indian couple visiting their son for his graduation at MIT.
The milestone signifies stronger ties between the US and India amid their strategic partnership. It also indicates the increasing interest among Indians to travel to the US post COVID pandemic.
According to news agency PTI, the recipient of the one millionth non-immigrant visa to the US is Dr Ranju Singh from Delhi. Her husband was granted the next visa. Ambassador Eric Garcetti greeted the couple as "Mr and Mrs One Million" while handing over their visa to them. The couple will travel to the US in May next year.
"I couldn't be happier today, happy for India, Indians and the United States," said Eric Garcetti.
While talking about what went behind this achievement, the Ambassador said, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden had said let's do a better job in moving faster on the visas and so the Ministry of External Affairs here approved more bodies in places like Hyderabad, more people who can work on these visas, we changed our systems, we worked harder and smarter and we hit a million visa applications processed this year."
"Our partnership with India is one of the United States' most vital bilateral relationships. The ties between our people are stronger than ever, and we will continue our record-setting volume of visa work in the coming months," Ambassador Eric Garcetti said,
Last year, over 1.2 million Indians visited the US, solidifying this as one of the world's most substantial travel relationships. Indians now account for over 10% of all visa applicants worldwide, with 20% seeking student visas and 65% applying for H&L-category employment visas.
To address the surging demand for US visas, the United States has made substantial investments in its operations in India. The US Mission has expanded its workforce to streamline visa processing, upgraded facilities at the US Consulate in Chennai, and inaugurated a new Consulate building in Hyderabad.
According to the US Embassy here, strategies to enhance efficiency have been implemented such as extending interview waiver eligibility and leveraging remote work to involve staff from around the world in Indian visa processing. A pilot program is also set to be implemented next year, allowing domestic visa renewal for qualified H&L-category employment visa applicants.