U.S. Sets Visa Records in India in 2023 through Staffing Increases, Innovations, and Increased Efficiency
New Delhi – The U.S. Consular Team in India processed more visas than ever before in 2023, bringing down visitor visa appointment wait times by 75%.
In 2023, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India processed a record-smashing 1.4 million U.S. visas. Demand across all visa classes was unprecedented, with a 60% increase in applications compared to 2022. Indians now represent one out of every ten U.S. visa applicants around the world.
Visitor visas (B1/B2) have rebounded to represent the second highest number of applications in the U.S. Mission’s history – over 700,000. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates met this demand through a three-month staffing surge in Mumbai early in the year, by increased permanent staff levels, and through the employment of innovative technical solutions. Process improvements and investments in staffing have brought the appointment wait time for visitor visas down from an average of 1,000 days to only 250 days around the country. Wait times are minimal in all other categories.
In 2023, the U.S. consular team in India issued over 140,000 student visas – more than in any other country in the world setting a record for the third year in a row. Taken individually, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Chennai now stand as the top four student visa processing posts in the world. As a result of these surging numbers, Indian students have become the largest group of international graduate students in the United States and make up more than a quarter of the over one million foreign students studying in the United States.
Employment visas remain a top priority. Consular Team India consolidated most petition-based visa processing in Chennai and Hyderabad to increase efficiency, leading to the processing of over 380,000 employment visas for Indians and their family members in 2023 and allowing the U.S. Mission to maintain a minimal appointment wait time. In 2024, a pilot program will allow eligible H1B holders to renew their visas in the United States, further streamlining the process for this group.
Consulate General Mumbai eliminated a queue of over 31,000 immigrant visa cases delayed by the pandemic. Those who have a pending immigrant visa petition and are ready for scheduling can now obtain an appointment within the standard, pre-pandemic appointment window.
The U.S. Mission continues to invest in the future of consular services in India and explore ways to provide more efficient and convenient services. These investments have included the opening of a new $340 million dollar facility in Hyderabad in March 2023, the announcement of two new consulates in Ahmedabad and Bangalore, continued capital improvements to our facilities around the country, and the permanent assignment of more consular officers to India.