US to introduce new visa processing system

The US Consulate will be introducing new visa processing system from September 26 to streamline appointment scheduling, simplify fee payment and provide new delivery system across India through new website ‘www.ustraveldocs.com/in’.

The website, available in English and Hindi, will answer applicants’ queries on how to apply for a U.S. visa. Applicants will be able to fill the forms, find out what documents are required and pay visa application fees. They can also schedule an appointment for biometric collection and an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Application fees can be paid through electronic fund transfer (EFT) or with their mobile phones. They can also pay cash at more than 1,800 Axis bank branches.

Applicants can contact the consulate via phone, email or online chat. The call centre employees will answer questions in Hindi, English, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, and Telugu. Appointments can be scheduled either through the new website or by a dedicated call centre (91-120) 660-2222 or (91-22) 6720 -9400. “We are offering appointments by phone for the first time. The new global appointment scheduling system will offer group and expedited appointments,” Minister Counsellor for Consular Affairs, Julia Stanley, told presspersons here on Thursday.

The upcoming system would allow bulk purchases of fee receipts, an important benefit for companies and travel agents. Within one hour of payment, the applicants would receive an SMS letting them know that their receipt had been activated and that they could proceed with scheduling their appointments.

Ms. Julia Stanley said that one important difference from the current system was that first-time applicants would need to schedule two appointments -- one for fingerprint collection and another for a consular interview. Fingerprints would be collected at an offsite facilitation centre (OFC) prior to the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Applicants who would be renewing their visas would probably be able to skip this step. Under the new system, passports, visas, immigrant visa packets and other documents would be delivered to 33 document pick-up locations across the country within a week at no charge. Applicants would be asked to choose a delivery location when they schedule their appointments. When their documents were ready for pick-up, they would be notified via email or SMS.

However, visa application fees would remain the same worldwide. An American consular officer would still conduct the interview at the Embassy or Consulate; and adjudication standards had not changed. For more information, visit www.ustraveldocs.com/in or Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/usconsulategeneralhyderabad.
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