US To Stop Mandatory Interview For Certain Visas

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The US is working on making the visa application process shorter for Indian nationals and starting September 1, certain applicants can apply for a waiver from mandatory interview. 
In a communication to travel agent associations, the US Consulate said the initiative aims to reduce turnaround times for visa renewals and improve customer service for visa applicants across India. 
Applicants renewing their US visa (subject to certain conditions), children below the age of 79 can qualify for an interview waiver while applying for a US visa starting next month. 
The US consulate and VFS Global, which processes US visa applications in India, did not respond to an email seeking comments till press time Wednesday. 
In its communication, the US Consulate stated that starting September 1, eligible applicants must schedule an appointment date in order to drop off their passport and visa application materials at one of its 11 locations in the country. A visa application centre employee will review the document checklist before accepting the application for delivery to the US Embassy or Consulate. Applicants will receive a decision on their case in seven to ten business days of submission. 
There could be cases in which an applicant must appear for an interview, the consulate said. 
“If the applicant is required to come in for an interview, he or she must travel to the post selected for interview waiver processing,” it said in its communication. “Once documents are submitted, it is not possible to transfer cases between posts. Applicants who must appear for an interview will be notified on how to proceed.” 
ET saw a copy of the communication. 
US visa application centres are present in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Kochi, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Pune and Ahmedabad. 
The US’ share of the global long-haul travel market is on a four-year slide since its previous high of 13.7% in 2015, falling to 11.7% in 2018, as per US Travel Association. 
The decline in market share represents losses to the US economy of 14 million international visitors, $59 billion in international traveller spending, and 120,000 jobs, it said. 

The association expects the decline in the US share of the international travel market to continue till 2022. 
The US got 79.8 million total international visitors in 2019 with Canada, Mexico and other overseas markets contributing about 21 million, 18.2 million, and 40.6 million visitors, respectively, it said.