The United States will open additional consular facilities in China and Brazil to increase visa processing capacity in those countries.
The State Department said it will open a new consulate building in Guangzhou in FY 2013, and will open a consular section in Wuhan in FY 2014. New consulates in Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre will open in Brazil by 2014. These investments will increase visa processing capacity in Brazil by 140 percent and in China by 120 percent, the Department said in a press release.
As a result of these efforts to increase capacity, streamline processing, and lower interview wait times, the State Department reported that consular officers at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Consulate General Rio de Janeiro, Consulate General São Paulo, and Consulate Recife have processed more than one million visa applications in fiscal year 2012 while reducing the wait time for a visa interview appointment to less than one week. This represents visa processing growth of almost 37% over the same period last fiscal year. The U.S. Mission in Brazil joins the U.S. Missions in China and Mexico as the only U.S. missions that process over one million visas each year.
On Wednesday, the Obama Administration released a 180 Day Progress Report on its efforts to build capacity, leverage resources, and improve the visa application and entry process without compromising security.
The State Department said it is meeting and exceeding the President's goals to lower visa interview wait times and increase visa processing capacity with new staffing initiatives, expansion of existing facilities, and streamlining of the visa process.
The State Department also said that it surpassed the President's goal of interviewing 80 percent of non-immigrant visa applicants within three weeks of receipt of their application. Worldwide, consular officers are now interviewing 88 percent of applicants within three weeks, compared to 57 percent in July 2011. In China, wait times have been kept to an average of five days in 2012 while managing a 37 percent increase in visa demand. In Brazil, wait times were brought down by 98 percent to just two days, while also managing a 37 percent jump in demand.
As of June 2012, the U.S. Mission in Brazil had increased visa processing capacity by 40 percent, and the U.S. Mission in China will meet the target by December 2012. To accomplish this, State created more than 50 new visa adjudicator positions in China and 60 in Brazil, including 43 hired under an innovative program that targets recruits that speak Mandarin and Portuguese.
A pilot program that allows consular officers to waive in-person interviews for certain non-immigrant visa applicants who are renewing their visas is operational at 52 visa processing posts in 28 countries. Consular officers have already waived interviews for more than 120,000 of these low-risk visa applicants.
by RTT Staff Writer
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