The US embassy and consulates in India, in particular, shattered their all-time record for the number of student visas awarded in a single fiscal year, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
According to a top State Department official, the US is doing everything possible to shorten the wait for a visa interview appointment in India. The visa processing is expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels over the course of the upcoming year and is already moving more quickly than anticipated.
At his daily press conference on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that he “absolutely understands the difficulties of individuals who have to wait for a long time,” in response to the rising alarm over the backlog of visa applications from nations like India.
Applicants with urgent travel needs who fulfil certain requirements can request for an emergency appointment, which is typically available within days. As of November 2022, the median worldwide wait time for a tourist visa (B1/B2) interview appointment was approximately two months.
“Visa processing is recovering faster than projected and over the coming year, we expect to reach pre-pandemic processing levels,” Price said.
He said that the US shattered its all-time record for the number of student visas issued in a single fiscal year, with its embassy and consulates in India specifically breaking it. The US issued more student visas in the fiscal year 2022 than in any year since 2016, he said.
“We issued nearly 1,25,000 student visas. We recognise that some applicants may still face extended visa wait times, and we’re making every effort to further reduce visa interview appointment wait times as quickly as possible in India and around the world, including for first-time tourist visa applicants,” he said.
“I can tell you that it is a priority of the Secretary and of the Department to do everything we can to reduce that backlog and ultimately to reduce the wait times,” he said.
He declared that while preserving national security, the State Department was dedicated to enabling legitimate travel to the US.
“We know that timely visa processing is essential to the US economy and to the administration’s goal of family reunification. We’ve made great strides in recovering from pandemic-related closures and staffing challenges, but we’re still working to respond to the significant demand for visa services,” Price said.