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Interview must for US visa-seekers

Calcutta, July 10: The US has tightened procedures for non-immigrant visa applications as part of increased security measures post-September 11.

Effective from July 14, the majority of those applying for temporary visas will now have to make appointments with consular officers for personal interviews. “Basically, the number of categories for whom personal interviews could be waived has been greatly reduced,” explained an official from the US embassy in Delhi.

The applicants for whom the drop-box system will apply are:

   §Persons renewing or replacing a visa of the same category which is still valid or expired less than 12 months ago.

   §Persons 60 years old or above, provided they have not previously been refused a visa.

   §Children under 14, where both parents can demonstrate that they already have US visas and that both are physically present in India.

   §Government officials on official travel for the central government, regardless of the type of passport they carry. Applications should be accompanied by a diplomatic note.

“At the moment, there are long waiting-lists for interviews in Mumbai and Chennai. In Chennai, if you apply in July, the interview date will not be before September. In Delhi, the date will be around August. In Calcutta, the rush is not so bad,” pointed out the official. “So, if anyone is in a hurry, they are being advised to apply from Calcutta. But it’s not always convenient to go to another city just to get a visa. The best thing to do is apply well in advance,” he said.

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