The U.S. Embassy in India has announced that a new system for visa processing will be implemented beginning on September 26, 2012. The Embassy’s new website, www.ustraveldocs.com/in, facilitates many of the changes and is available in English and Hindi.
The biggest change is that a new appointment will be necessary prior to the visa interview. The applicant will first make an appointment with the Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to get fingerprints and photos taken. Once an applicant goes to the OFC, he or she will not need to go again for subsequent visa appointments. Currently, the OFC appointment cannot be scheduled on the same day as the visa interview, but the Embassy hopes that this will change.
Another significant change is that passports, visas, immigrant visa packets and other documents will be delivered to 33 pickup locations across India. This means applicants need not return to the consulate or embassy to collect the documents. The applicant chooses a pick up location when he or she schedules the visa interview. Once the documents are ready, the applicant will be notified that the documents can be picked up.
There are also some changes to the way in which the interview and fees are processed. In addition to scheduling appointments online, applicants will be able to make appointments by phone. They can have questions answered by phone, email or by way of an online chat with a call center agent via the new website.
New ways to pay the visa fees have been added. In addition to paying online, applicants can pay by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT), mobile phone, or cash at over 1,800 Axis and Citibank branches. Fees also can be paid in bulk and the system will allow scheduling of group and emergency appointments.