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NEW VISA APPOINTMENT SYSTEM FOR CONSULATES IN INDIA FROM SEP. 26, 2012

Posted by Admin on 2012-10-18

The United States Embassy at New Delhi in India on Sep. 5, 2012 announced that they are implementing a new visa processing system throughout India that will further standardize procedures and will simplify fee payment and appointment scheduling through a new website at www.ustraveldocs.com/in. The new appointment system will take effect from September 26, 2012. All U.S. non immigrant visa applicants will be able to pay application fees via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or with their mobile phones. They can also pay in cash at more than 1,800 Axis bank branches and Citibank branches. For the first time, applicants will be able to schedule their appointments online or by phone. The visa applicants will be able to have their questions answered via telephone, email, or online chat. The call centers will be located in Noida and Hyderabad and the agents will answer questions in Hindi, English, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, and Telugu. The call centers will be open from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday through Friday, and from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Sunday. The numbers to call are (91-120) 660-2222 or (91-22) 6720-9400 from India or 1-310-616-5424 from the United States. Applicants can email in English or Hindi at supportindia@ustraveldocs.com, or they can chat with the call center people directly from the website www.ustraveldocs.com/in during call center hours. One important change is that under the new system, applicants will have to make two appointments one for giving finger prints and for taking digital photos and second one for actual interview at the consulate. Prior to their visa interviews, applicants will have to visit an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to submit their fingerprints and for taking digital photos. It is anticipated that located apart from the Embassy and Consulates in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai, the OFCs will reduce congestion at U.S. consular facilities and speed applicant processing. Most applicants will need to visit an OFC only once for finger printing and photo taking. It is stated that the goal is to make the visa process as efficient as possible to meet the increased demand for U.S. visas worldwide. In March the Embassy introduced a Visa Waiver program in India, which allows certain qualified applicants to renew their visas without coming in for an interview. The new visa processing system will streamline appointment scheduling, simplify fee payments, and provide new delivery options. The brand new website in English and Hindi will answer all questions about how to apply for a U.S. visa. Through the website, 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. You can access the website at www.ustraveldocs.com/in. There is absolutely no need to contact any travel agents in India and you or your attorney can do everything from here in United States including the scheduling both appointments and fee payments by EFT. Your relatives only need to appear for finger prints and for interview. Applicants can also contact the U. S Embassy and Consulates by telephone, email, or online chat. The new call center agents can answer questions in Hindi, English, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, and Telugu. There are no fees for calling the call center. Under the new system, the applicants have more payment options 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 and Citibank branches. The new system allows for bulk purchases of fee receipts, an important benefit for companies and travel agents. 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. Appointments can be scheduled through our new website or by calling the call center. The Embassy and Consulates in India are offering appointments by phone for the first time. The new global appointment scheduling system will offer group and expedited appointments. One important difference from the current system is that first-time applicants will need to schedule two appointments; one for fingerprint collection, and one for a consular interview. Fingerprints will be collected at an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) prior to the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. For many first-time applicants, this will mean two appointments on two separate days. It is informed that they are working to shorten this to one day, but at this point, the Embassy cannot say with certainty when that will happen. The OFCs will be located in convenient locations separate from the Embassy or Consulates to reduce congestion and to speed applicant processing. The good news is that most applicants will only need to submit their fingerprints at the OFC one time. Applicants who are renewing their visas will probably be able to skip this step. Over time, it is expected that the number of applicants who do not need to visit the Embassy or Consulate premises to grow markedly. The new processing improvements also affect the delivery of documents. Under our new system, passports, visas, immigrant visa packets and other documents will be delivered to 33 document pick-up locations across India within a week after the interview at no charge. Applicants will be asked to choose a delivery location when they schedule their appointments. Using the new website, the applicants can also track the progress of their visa applications. When their documents are ready for pick-up, they will be notified via email and/or SMS. It is reminded that the visa application fees will remain the same worldwide; an American consular officer will still conduct the interview at the Embassy or Consulate; and the adjudication standards have not changed. Applicants must still meet the requirements for the appropriate visa class, whether they are traveling as tourists, business people, or students. The Embassy and Consulates will continue to issue 10-year multiple-entry visas to all those who qualify. The Embassy and Consulates are committed to an efficient visa process for all visa applicants worldwide. Presently, visa applicants in India wait fewer than ten days for their appointments, spend less than one hour at the consular facilities, and typically have their visas in hand within a week of their interview. The Embassy and Consulate expect that the new system will further increase the efficiency and transparency of the visa processing, standardizing the process for all visa applicants worldwide. Disclaimer: Lal Varghese, Attorney at Law, with more than 35 years of experience, mainly practices in U. S. immigration law and is located in Dallas, Texas. He does not claim authorship for above referenced information since it is provided by Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., USCIS web site, AILA and other legal sources, all published for the benefit of the general public. Lal Varghese, Attorney at Law or the publisher is not responsible or liable for anything stated above, since it is generalized information about the subject matter collected from various legal sources. For individual cases and specific questions you are advised to consult any attorney of your choice in your State of residence or contact your State Bar Organizations or local Bar Associations for finding an attorney or for any legal help. You can visit our website at: www.indiaimmigrationusa.com or www.indiaimmigrationusa.blogspot.com for information about U. S. immigration law related matters. Lal Varghese, Attorney at Law can be reached at (972) 788-0777 or at his e-mail: attylal@aol.com if you have any questions.