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Biden told me to cut visa wait time for Indians: US envoy Garcetti

Biden told me to cut visa wait time for Indians: US envoy Garcetti

In a first for any American president, US President Joe Biden asked the visa wait time be reduced for Indians, said Eric Garcetti, the US ambassador to India. Garcetti said work was on to reduce the visa wait time, which is currently at 250 days.

In Short

  • Garcetti mentioned a significant 75% decrease in visa waiting times
  • Record surge of Indian students to US marks a 35% increase in 2022-23
  • US embassy to open two new consulates in India for faster visa processing

Eric Garcetti, the US Ambassador to India, revealed that President Joe Biden asked him to reduce the wait period for American visas in India. The envoy stated that this is the first time a US president has given such a command to an ambassador in any country. A US visa can take up to 250 days to be processed in India.

“The president instructed me to cut visa wait times in India. In an interview with news agency ANI, Eric Garcetti stated, “I believe it is the first time a president has ever said that to an ambassador in any country.”

Garcetti stated that Congress-enacted legislation contributes to the visa backlog problem.

He emphasized that the US Congress needed to deal with issues on legal immigrants, green cards, and citizenships.

Garcetti said there was a 75% decrease in visa waiting times.

“Last year, the Embassy in India processed 1.4 million visas, an explosion of incredible numbers in every visa category. There is no wait time at all except in one area of travel where there is still some wait time and that is people traveling for the first time to the United States for tourism,” according to US Bureau of Consular Affairs Assistant Secretary Rena Bitter.


The reduction in waiting time for US visas is linked to a 60% rise in granting of visas in India over the last year.

“This is a legislative issue Congress needs to tackle, whether it’s the number of legal immigrants, green cards, or citizenships. Like any country, there are limits. This can be frustrating for Indians, as there are many who wish to come to America. Last year, India had the highest number of student visas, double that of the second-largest country,” Garcetti told ANI.

Indian students are increasingly choosing to study at US universities, creating a boom for American Universities. The number of Indian students in the US has skyrocketed, with a staggering 35% increase in just one year.

Currently, there are over 250,000 students from India at US universities.

Despite the 75% decrease in visa waiting time, there still remains a waiting period of 250 days. When Garcetti was asked about this ongoing 250-day waiting period, Garcetti stressed, “Where the 250 is still a long way. It is, and too high for me. The president said, Eric, I want you to bring down visa wait times in India. I think it’s probably the first time a President ever said that to an ambassador in any country.”

“I don’t think presidents even focus on visa wait times, but we all have so many Indian friends who are saying, Why is this taking so long? That it even went up to the president. So the reality of that 250 is an average. And I think the typical person is actually under 200 days already. It’s difficult with the existing resources,” he remarked.

Additionally, the US Embassy in India reported a record influx of Indian students to the US for higher education, with a 35% increase reaching an all-time high of 268,923 students in the 2022-23 academic year, as per the Open Doors Report.

To boost diplomatic connections, Garcetti said two consulates — in Bangalore and Ahmedabad — had been opened in India.

Despite hurdles, they’re working to increase staff levels after agreements are made during state visits, to make sure they represent themselves well and engage diplomatically in the region.

This article was published on India Today.

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