The United States has waived in-person interview requirements for many visa applicants, including students and workers, at its diplomatic missions in India through December 31 this year, a senior American diplomat has told Indian community leaders.
These applicants eligible for the waiver are students (F, M, and academic J visas), workers (H-1, H-2, H-3, and individual L visas), Culture and extraordinary ability (O, P, and Q visas), reported news agency PTI.
"This is much-needed support to visa applicants. This would be very helpful to our friends and immediate family members and remove a lot of their concerns and remove inconveniences," Ajay Jain Bhutoria, South Asian Community Leader and US President Joe Biden's Advisor for Asian Americans, said after his meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for South Central Asia, Donal Lu.
Mr Bhutoria raised the issue of visas during his meeting with Lu in Silicon Valley in the US state of California on Friday.
Donal Lu informed that through December 31, of this year, the US Department of State is authorised to waive in-person interview requirements for certain applicants and their qualifying derivatives in various non-immigrant visa classifications.
To be eligible for the expanded interview waiver programme, applicants seeking these visa classifications must have previously been issued any category of US visa; have never been refused a US visa and have no indication of ineligibility or potential visa ineligibility.
They also need to be a resident or national of the country in which they are applying; among other, the State Department said.
The US embassy in New Delhi and its consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai will release more than 20,000 additional waiver (dropbox) appointments for Spring 2022 to allow qualified applicants to make use of the new interview waiver authority, according to a notice posted on the website of the US Embassy in New Delhi.
During the meeting, Mr Bhutoria discussed with Donal Lu to increase people-to people relationships between the US and India. He stressed the importance of both the US and India working closely together in South Central Asia.
"Both India and the US are strong democracies and share democratic values and provide leadership in the Asia Pacific region," he said.
They also discussed the immense contribution made by the Indian American diaspora and their influential role in digital economic growth, startups and establishing businesses and companies, and contributing to the growth of the US economy.
Assistant Secretary Lu, Mr Bhutoria, Indian American Congressman Ro Khanna also met at the afternoon event to discuss with Afghan community leaders, elected officials the Afghanistan refugee resettlement.
During the meeting, Donal Lu highlighted recent immigration changes, recognising the tremendous opportunities that US work and study offer and the important contributions of international visitors to US communities, campuses, and the economy, the Department of State has streamlined visa processes for many applicants while continuing to protect national security, a media release said.
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