‘I want you to bring down visa wait time in India’, US Envoy recalls Biden’s order

US envoy to India, Eric Garcetti, said that Joe Biden told him to bring down the visa times, claiming it was first time an ambassador was told such a thing.

Eric Garcetti, US ambassador to India, following an interview in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, March 28, 2024. Garcetti said he�s working to convene events, along with India�s government, to bring investors to the country in the second half of the year, likely in Mumbai. Photographer: Ruhani Kaur/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)

The US envoy to India, Eric Garcetti, revealed that President Joe Biden directed him to reduce visa wait times in India, marking the first time an ambassador has been given such an instruction in any country.

Garcetti emphasized that part of the green card backlog issue is a legislative matter that Congress needs to address. He noted that adjudicating more visas has reduced the waiting time by 75%.

Speaking to ANI, Garcetti said, “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 the second-largest.”

He continued, “We’ve increased visa adjudications by 60% in India in just one year, maintaining the same staff, and reduced wait times by 75%. Congress needs to address this further.”

When asked about the 250-day waiting period despite the 75% reduction, Garcetti responded, “The 250 days is still too long. The president told me to reduce visa wait times in India. I believe it’s the first time a president has ever said that to an ambassador in any country. However, the typical wait time is actually under 200 days. It’s challenging with our current resources.”

Garcetti praised India’s system, stating, “…India is doing quite well in our system. Our system is looking at how it can continue to improve and possibly increase the numbers. This will require bipartisan cooperation.”

The US Embassy in India announced that for the third consecutive year, a record number of Indian students traveled to the US for higher education. According to the Open Doors Report (ODR), there was a 35% increase in the number of Indian international students in the US, reaching an all-time high of 268,923 students in the 2022-23 academic year.

Garcetti also disclosed ongoing discussions about opening two new consulates in India, one in Bangalore and the other in Ahmedabad. He said, “We’re considering opening two new consulates soon, one in Bangalore and another in Ahmedabad. We’re working with the Ministry of External Affairs to increase our presence in India. For instance, we recently opened a consulate in Hyderabad, which is one of the world’s most modern and beautiful consulates. However, it was only one-third staffed due to insufficient approvals from the Indian government. Last year, an agreement was reached during the state visit to hire more staff. So, you’ll see several dozen new hires this year.”

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