Shillong, March 29: Are you are planning a vacation to Niagara Falls, Disneyland or Las Vegas? Then “apply for your visa early” and remember the chances of getting a US visa increases dramatically if you are “married”.
These were some of the facts that were revealed at an interactive session, which was part of the US outreach programme to clarify misconceptions surrounding visa applications after the September 11 attacks.
Post 9/11, various misconceptions have arisen in both “America and India” over visa applications. To debunk these myths, officials from the US Consulate in Calcutta were here to interact with people from various cross-sections of society. They discussed about various visas, including non-immigrant visas (tourist and short-term business) and student visas.
“There have been a lot of misconceptions on both sides over visa applications post 9/11. Hence, we have undertaken outreach programmes to debunk the myths,” said vice consul general Jessica Pfleiderer, at an interactive session with the members of the Rotary Club Orchid City Shillong, at hotel Pinewood last evening.
Pfleiderer gave detailed explanations regarding the requirements for visa applications for those who intend to set foot on American soil.
She said the Calcutta consulate had processed around 40,000 visas in 2011, which was a 26 per cent increase from 2010. However, she could not provide details regarding the number of visas that were rejected.
Pfleiderer also advised the audience not to make any travel plans, including purchase of air tickets, unless their visa was cleared by the consulate. “We do not want you to lose a lot of money. So, please, refrain from purchasing air tickets until your visa is cleared,” she said.
She also said it was a “little easier” to get a visa “if you have a spouse”. “We take a lot of time to approve visa applications received from unmarried young people,” Pfleiderer said. The average time to clear visa applications was two to four weeks, she added. In case of a refusal, applicants can always apply for a second time after correcting the mistakes.
Today, the visiting consular team held a public information session on the requirements needed to apply for US visas with students of the North Eastern Hill University and with travel agents.
Tomorrow, the team will interact with students of the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong, Women’s College and Martin Luther Christian University.
On Monday, India had expressed concern over the rising rejections of US visas to professionals. It had also asked US authorities not to resort to “protectionist tendencies”.
Union commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma had taken up the issue during his meeting with US commerce secretary John Bryson, in New Delhi.