New consulate at US embassy in Delhi

New consulate at US embassy in Delhi

“This facility is a reflection of the enduring strength of the US-India relationship,” said Ambassador Roemer, after inaugurating the new consular section of the embassy. “It demonstrates the US commitment to our expanding people-to-people ties just as we are strengthening our strategic partnership for the prosperity, security, and democratic future of all our citizens,” he added.

James Herman, counsellor for consular affairs in the US embassy, said that the new facility was the result of a multi-year expansion that had cost US $ 10 million. “It will permit the Embassy to provide faster and better consular service to the Indian community,” he said.

The new facility doubles the waiting area, triples customer seating, adds a modern queuing system to guide customers through the visa process and adds many new interviewing windows to ensure that visa applicants as well as US citizens can speak to an officer more quickly and in a convenient, modern environment.

Diplomatic sources said that demand for consular services in India had surged to new levels mirroring the deepening strategic partnership.  Over the past five years, the number of US non-immigrant visas issued to Indians has more than doubled from approximately 277,407 in 2003 to approximately 566,896 in 2008. Indians have also been the largest foreign student population in US colleges and universities since 2001 and the number reached nearly 95,000 in 2008.

The global meltdown caused a decline in the number of visa applicants over the past one year, but sources said that the fall was not as steep as it was anticipated to be, primarily because the number of Indian students going to America remained more or less same. According to officials of the US embassy in New Delhi, the decline in the number of visa applicants has stopped over the past few weeks.