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Indians face years-long wait for US visas

The American tourism industry is suffering as foreigners remain unable to secure needed documents post-Covid

Indian tourists hoping to travel to the US often wait years for a tourist visa, CNN reported on Tuesday. Would-be visitors must turn over detailed information about their trip, proof they are financially solvent, work and education history, and information about relatives in the US – and even all that information only gets them halfway there.  

Depending on where they live, Indians can expect to wait nearly three years just for the in-person interview, which is the last step to securing their American visa. This state of affairs is attributable to delays that have lingered since Covid-19, which saw Washington halt all but emergency diplomatic services.

The US State Department told the outlet that wait times for an interview at its missions in India averaged 780 days in Hyderabad and 936 days in New Delhi, and topped out at a whopping 999 days for Mumbai residents this month. While a representative explained that Washington is working on speeding up the process, bringing on new employees and expanding interview waivers for temp workers and students, they also claimed things would be back to pre-pandemic “normal” by 2023 – giving them less than a month to get their house in order.

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Industry group US Travel Association recently conducted a study revealing that the US’ failure to process visa applications in a timely fashion was severely cutting into its tourism revenues, with travelers from major markets, such as India, Brazil, and Mexico, opting to go elsewhere. “The visitor you deter today is also the visitor who chooses not to come tomorrow,” the group’s CEO Geoff Freeman told CNN.  

Indian tourists ranked as the fifth largest spenders on American tourism in 2019, but with visa applications having ground to a near halt, the study estimated that the US would miss out on $1.6 billion in 2023 alone from Indian tourists who – unable to secure the coveted visa – will opt to spend their rupees elsewhere.   

While visiting the US as a tourist may require planning further and further ahead, entering the country illegally has never been more popular. US Customs and Border Protection reported a record 2.3 million migrant encounters this year. Illegals seeking asylum stateside have to wait an average of 785 days to have their claim heard as of this month, but they are allowed to stay in the US during that time.

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December 15, 2022 at 03:31AM
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