In a significant milestone, the US Mission in India announced on Thursday that it has successfully processed over one million non-immigrant visa applications this year, surpassing its initial target.
This achievement highlights India’s growing prominence in global visa applications, with Indians now constituting over 10% of all visa applicants worldwide. Notably, they represent 20% of all student visa applicants and a substantial 65% of all H&L-category (employment) visa applicants.
Comparing the figures to pre-Covid times in 2019 and 2022, the number of visa applications processed in India has surged by 20%. Indians have contributed significantly to the global application pool, with over one in 10 applications originating from the country, as confirmed by the embassy.
In a heartwarming moment, US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, personally handed over the one-millionth visa to a couple. The recipients, a pair of proud parents, are set to travel to the United States in May 2024 to attend their son’s graduation at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Dr Ranju Singh, a senior consultant at Lady Hardinge College, expressed her delight upon receiving an email from the US Embassy, confirming that her visa marked the historic one-millionth milestone this year. Accompanying her, Puneet Dargan, her husband, was granted the subsequent visa. The couple eagerly anticipates their journey to the United States, scheduled for May 2024.
Ambassador Garcetti, warmly addressing the couple as “Mr. and Mrs. One Million,” inquired about their travel plans and shared valuable suggestions on must-visit places in the United States, ensuring their trip is memorable.
In a momentous announcement, US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, expressed immense happiness for India, Indians, and the United States as the US Mission successfully achieved its goal of processing one million visa applications this year.
Ambassador Garcetti highlighted the joint efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden in expediting the visa processes. The Ministry of External Affairs in India facilitated this achievement by approving additional staff, particularly in Hyderabad, streamlining systems, and enhancing efficiency.
Emphasizing the significance of the US-India partnership, Ambassador Garcetti stated that this relationship stands as one of the most crucial bilateral ties globally. He affirmed that the bond between the people of the two nations has never been stronger.
The mission’s outstanding performance was reflected in its ability to surpass the total number of cases processed in 2022, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, processing nearly 20% more applications than in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.
Sharing their excitement, Dr. Ranju Singh, a senior consultant, and her husband Puneet Dargan, revealed their joy upon receiving the news of being the one millionth visa recipients. Dr. Singh expressed her gratitude for the personal meeting with Ambassador Garcetti, considering it a significant moment.
The couple eagerly anticipates their trip to the US, where they will celebrate their son’s achievement at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and explore the country as tourists. Their son is currently pursuing his Master’s in Financial Engineering at MIT, adding to the family’s pride and excitement for the upcoming journey.
In a testament to the deepening ties between India and the United States, the anticipation among Indian travellers is palpable as they prepare for their American journey. Puneet Dargan, one of the soon-to-be travellers, expressed their excitement, stating, “This will be our first trip to the US. We are really looking forward to it.”
This enthusiasm resonates across the nation, given the increasing trend of Indians exploring the United States. Last year, over 1.2 million Indians visited the US, underlining the strong connection between the two countries. Indians have emerged as a significant demographic, constituting over 10% of all visa applicants worldwide. Among these, 20% are aspiring students, while 65% seek employment opportunities under the H&L-category visas.
Acknowledging the sustained high demand for US visas in India, the US Embassy has made substantial investments in its operations. Over the past year, the mission expanded its workforce to process more visas than ever before. Strategic enhancements, including capital improvements in existing facilities such as the US Consulate in Chennai and the inauguration of a new consulate building in Hyderabad, have been instrumental in streamlining the process.
Furthermore, the mission has implemented efficiency-boosting strategies. These include extending interview waiver eligibility to new visa categories and leveraging remote work, allowing staff worldwide to contribute to Indian visa processing.
Looking ahead, the mission is set to introduce a pilot program early next year, enabling domestic visa renewal for qualified H&L-category employment visa applicants. These initiatives reflect the commitment of both nations to fostering seamless travel and strengthening the enduring bond between the people of India and the United States.