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Net, mobile fast lane for visa applicants

- Embassy interview holds key to trip approval

Going to United States (US) has got easier, thanks to a new two-step visa application procedure aimed at simplifying the hurdles.

Jonathan Scott, vice consul, US Embassy, New Delhi, came to the American Corner at Indian Institute of Business Management to sort out the queries and clear the misconceptions of students about how to apply for US visa.

“Majority of human resources across the globe are of Indian origin. Students should always be aware of the problems that would come across their way during the visa application procedure.”

Elaborating the two-step procedure, Scott said: “The new system will simplify fee payment and scheduling appointments for individual applicants, businesses and travel agents. It is also more technology-friendly. After filling the form online on www.ustravelsdocs.com, applicants can pay the form fee through cellphone. Applicants can fix appointments on the telephone. Once fixed, the applicant has to fly down to New Delhi for biometric collection and interview. The fee is activated within an hour of payment.”

Emergency appointments are granted on a limited basis for medical and humanitarian reasons. “When applicants request for an expedited appointment through the online system, they get a response within a business day,” said Scott.

The new system accommodates the scheduling of group and emergency appointments. It benefits companies and travel agents, who purchase multiple fee receipts for group travel. It also reduces the applicant’s waiting time in the visa lobby. “We started the telephonic process to make the process simple. After the passports are ready for pick-up, applicants are notified via email and/or SMS,” said Scott.

Discussing the most common errors owing to which visa applications are turned down or delayed, Scott said: “Few applications are turned down when the applicant fails to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent by establishing that they have sufficient economic and social ties to assure their departure after a limited stay in the United States. Secondly, some applications require administrative processing, which takes additional time. You can check the status of your application on the website.”

Most applicants develop cold feet in the interview round. Scott said: “The interview probably lasts less than three minutes during which the officer might not look at the applicant’s documents. The applicant should always be clear about the purpose of visit and the duration of stay.”