US visa appointment slots hiked to 30,000 at the US Consulate in Chennai

Via Rediff News
October 19, 2006

Taking serious note of the vast backlog for US visa appointments, the
US Consulate in Chennai has added 30,000 visa appointments till the end
of this year, Peter Kaestner, Minister Counsellor of US Consular
Affairs, New Delhi, said on Thursday.

said the number of visa appointment slots was being increased in a bid
to streamline the US visa application process and to reduce the
long-waiting time for applicants.

“The US Consulate General is
not satisfied with the long-waiting time for visa appointments, as much
as the applicants. The headquarters at Washington has sanctioned more
resources in the form of money and extra personnel to quicken the
process of visa issuance,” Kaestner informed the media.

order to enable better service, the US consulate was strongly urging
the applicants, who had obtained appointment slots in 2007, to advance
their appointments to this year.

As many as 500 slots are
available every day and these can be used to eliminate the backlog in
issuing visas, he said.  This year alone, over 1,25,000 visa
applications were received from all over the country and another 40,000
appointment requests had already been made for 2007, he said.

has been an increase of 19 per cent in the number of visas issued in
the last budgetary year when compared to the previous year, with
1,20,000 issuances in 2004-05 increasing to over 1,43,000 in 2005-06,”
Kaestner said.

“The US Consulate receives fraudulent visa
applications in which the applicant supplies false documents in the
form of school leaving certificates, bank documents and university
degrees,” Kaestner said. He attributed this to the wrong information
being provided to the applicants by people posing as visa agents, about
the documents required.

“Even legitimate applicants have to be
denied visas because they follow the advice of such agents. In reality,
very few documents are required to be attached with a visa application
and the specifications are available in the website”,
Kaestner said.

Voicing concern over this fraudulent activity, he
said that the number of fake applications was large enough to intervene
in the smooth processing of visas. Over 80,000 students from India were
pursuing higher education in America of which 12,000 were from South
India alone.

The number of student visas had increased steadily
and last year registered the highest number of student visas, Kaestner
said. Compared to 2004-05, the last financial year recorded a 20 per
cent increase in the number of student visas, he said.

that Chennai topped the country in the highest number of visa
applications, he said the city was way ahead of all other states in
eliminating the backlog.

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