As part of the U.S. Department of State’s continuing efforts to streamline the visa process worldwide, U.S. Embassy and Consulates across India are implementing a new visa processing system that will further standardize procedures and will simplify fee payment and appointment scheduling through their new visa application website.  As of September 26, 2012, U.S. visa applicants are able to pay visa application fees via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT), with their mobile phones or at one of Axis bank’s 1,800+ branches. 

This enables applicants to schedule visa interview appointments online or by phone for the first time.  The new system also allows companies and travel agents to purchase multiple fee receipts for group travel and schedule of group appointments.  Visa applicants can also have their questions answered via telephone, email, or online chat.

An important change under the new system is that applicants have to make two appointments:  one for the visa interview itself as well as an earlier one at an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to submit their fingerprints and a photo.  The OFCs, which separate from the Embassy and Consulates in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai, are intended to reduce congestion at U.S. consular facilities and speed applicant processing.   

The Interview Waiver Program (IWP), also recently introduced in India, allows certain Indian applicants who are applying to renew a visa in the same class of a visa previously issued by a Consulate/Embassy in India, to apply for a waiver of the in person interview requirement.  Please look for our blog posting with more information about this process.