Washington. Describing India as an important partner, top US lawmakers have urged President Joe Biden’s administration to address the issue of visa waiting times in the country on a priority basis. Congressman Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Michael Waltz, co-chairman of the House India Caucus, asked top State Department officials during two separate Congressional hearings on the ‘consular affairs budget’ to discuss visa requirements in India. Why do people have to wait for 600 days?
Menendez said, “The people of America and India share a strong bond. India is now a part of the ‘Quad’ (quadrilateral security dialogue group). We are continuously including it in our geo-strategic interests. A large number of Indian Americans and their families live in New Jersey. I appreciate the steps taken by the Ministry to reduce the waiting time of B1-B2 applicants in India. For the first time in India, any B1-B2 applicants have to wait for an average of 450 to 600 days. This is the highest waiting time globally. Why is it taking 600 days?
MP Waltz said during the hearing of the ‘House Foreign Relations Committee’, “I am the co-chairman of the US India Caucus. I think this is one of our most consequential economic diplomatic security relationships in the 21st century. However, I continue to receive complaints from Indian Americans and our Indian allies about the wait times. Despite the fact that we have the second or third highest number of ‘consular’ affairs officers posted in India.
“According to the data available with me, the average waiting time in Mumbai, India is 587 days,” he said. Waltz said the delay in getting visas would also affect business ties. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Rina Bitter told lawmakers in two separate congressional hearings that the State Department is doing its best to deal with it and has taken several steps to resolve it. He said the visa waiting time has come down by almost two-thirds.
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