Date: 15th May 2012
The scheme is applicable only for renewable visas: Vice-Consul
With the idea to increase travel and tourism to the United States of America, the Department of State has initiated a pilot project wherein a certain number of qualified individuals will be exempted from the personal interview by a US consular officer for a visa. The initiative was announced by the US President Barack Obama in January this year.
According to the proposal, applicants who intend to renew their visas that are still valid or for those whose visas have expired within the past 48 months and who fall under the categories of business or tourism (B1 and or B2 visa), dependents of exchange visitor visa holders whose sponsor continues to participate in the same programme as that annotated on the previous visa (J2), transit (C) visa and crew member (D) visa are eligible for the programme.
“This scheme is applicable only for renewable and not for fresh visas under the mentioned categories. Moreover, if the previous visa is annotated with the words ‘clearance received' this scheme will not be applicable,” said the Vice –Consul from the Hyderabad US Consulate Matthew Stannard. He also said that though the interview is exempted, the individuals still need to make an appearance with prior appointment for the biometric (fingerprint) collection, and all applicants must submit all the required fees and the DS-160 application form. Answering a query on student visas and what they need to do to avoid being lured by fictitious institutes and colleges, Mr. Matthew said, “We advise every student to do some research on the colleges and the programmes before taking a decision. In the US, every student spends some time in research before embarking on a programme. Moreover, we suggest that every student should visit the USIEF (United States-India Educational Foundation) and the Education USA websites for more information before taking a decision. The information is available free of cost in both the websites and the USIEF site also has a toll free number to answer any queries.” According to him there are about 4,000 colleges with multiple options in the US and it is advisable to start the search and research at least a year ago, to get the best of it. “Do not rush – is the catch phrase,” he said.
In 2011, the consular officers in India have processed more than 6.7 lakh non-immigrant visa applications, an increase of more than 11 per cent over the previous year. “In the last six years we have increased the consulate staff by 60 per cent, invested more than 100 million USD to update and expand facilities, started a Consulate in Hyderabad and moved into a new state-of-the-art consulate in Mumbai, just to meet the increased demand in India,” said Mr. Matthew.
For more details visit website http://hyderabad.usconsulate.gov/ or the Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) website: www.vfs-usa.co.in