The United States Embassy in India has announced that it is implementing a new visa processing system throughout India that will simplify fee payment and appointment scheduling through a new website. Some important features of the new system, that is to be implemented on September 26, are as below:
- A new website has been introduced, through which visa applicants will be able to fill out application forms, find out what documents are required, pay visa application fees, schedule an appointment for biometrics collection, and schedule an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The website will be available in English and Hindi.
- Applicants will be able to have their questions answered via telephone, email, or online chat. Call center agents will answer questions of the applicants in Hindi, English, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, and Telugu. Call centers will be open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, and 9:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sunday, and there are no fees for calling the call center. Applicants can also email in English or Hindi, or chat directly through the new website during call center hours.
- More payment options have been made available. Applicants will have the option of paying their visa application fees by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or with a mobile phone. They will also be able to pay in cash at over 1,800 Axis Bank branches. Within one hour of payment, applicants will receive an SMS message letting them know that their receipt has been activated, and they can proceed with scheduling their appointments. Further, companies and travel agents are allowed to purchase multiple fee receipts for group travel.
- Applicants will be able to schedule their appointments online through the new website or by calling the call center. The new system also accommodates the scheduling of group and emergency appointments.
- First-time applicants will need to schedule two appointments – one for fingerprint collection, and one for a consular interview. Prior to their visa interviews, applicants will have to visit an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to submit their fingerprints and a photo. However, most applicants will only need to submit their fingerprints at the OFC one time, and applicants who are renewing their visas will probably be able to skip this step
Visa applicants must note that the new system brings about changes only in the visa issuance process and there are no changes in the adjudication standards. Applicants must still meet the requirements for the visa class that they are applying for, and the visa application fees will remain the same worldwide. This new visa processing system will be implemented on September 26, and we will keep our readers informed of all updates in this regard.