NewsBriefs - Recent Updates & Announcements
New Feature for Travel CoordinatorsPosted: March 4, 2013
The U.S. Visa Application Center in India has launched a new feature for travel coordinators who need to schedule appointments for multiple travelers. Regular readers of MurthyIndiaDotCom and MurthyIndiaBulletin may be aware that, under the new visa application system introduced in September 2012, applicants must create a profile at https://www.ustraveldocs.com/in in order to schedule an appointment.
Under the new system, a travel coordinator can schedule visa appointments for several different travellers without having to create multiple profile names and keep track of multiple passwords. Instead, once a profile is created, the travel coordinator can simply send a blank eMail to email@example.com with his/her user ID, and a coordinator profile will be automatically enabled with a new panel and menu options. S/he will have to send another blank eMail to firstname.lastname@example.org to toggle to the profile of an individual user, if s/he has to schedule an interview for him/herself.
This is welcome relief both for tour operators and the travel desks of large companies that handle multiple visa appointments. Detailed information on this feature can be found here.
New USCIS Immigrant Visa Fee Now In EffectPosted: March 4, 2013
Effective February 1, 2013, all applicants seeking a U.S. immigrant visa will have to pay an additional fee of US$ 165, which must be paid online after approval of the immigrant visa and before travel to the United States. The following immigrants are exempt from this fee:
- Prospective adoptive parents whose child is entering the United States under either the Orphan or Hague Process;
- Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants who were employed by the U.S. government;
- Returning residents, and
- Persons entering the U.S. on K visa.
- This update and more detailed information can be found here.
Bengaluru Outreach Program on March 19, 20 and 21, 2013Posted: March 4, 2013
Regular readers of MurthyIndiaDotCom are aware that the U.S. Citizenship Services Section of the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, periodically provides outreach services at Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), to help U.S. citizens. The next outreach program at Bengaluru is scheduled for March 19, 20, and 21, 2013. U.S. citizens can avail themselves of the following services with prior confirmed appointments:
- U.S. Passport renewals for minors;
- Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA);
- First-time passport applications for minors; and
- Notary Services.
U.S. citizens requiring any of these services may seek an appointment by writing to the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, at email@example.com, providing the name of the applicant and type of service required. More information on American Citizenship Services and the documentary requirements can be obtained from the consular website. American Citizens can continue to email firstname.lastname@example.org with other enquires or concerns. This update can be found on the U.S. Consulate Chennai’s website.
U.S. Visa Application Status May be Checked OnlinePosted: February 4, 2013
Both U.S. immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants can now check the status of their applications online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website (https://ceac.state.gov/CEAC/). The hyperlink to verify the status of application(s) was available when the new visa application system was introduced in 2012, but this particular feature was not functional until recently. We expect this feature to be very useful, especially when the decision on the visa application is pending due to administrative process under section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Administrative process generally refers to a background check or the additional investigation the consulate may have to undertake prior to making a final decision on an application for visa. In the case of immigrant visas, applicants can now track progress of their application from the National Visa Center (NVC) to the Embassy / Consulate where the final visa interview is held.
U.S. Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants from India can now Update DS-160 Information After Scheduling Visa InterviewPosted: February 4, 2013
Regular readers of MurthyIndiaBulletin are aware that the new visa application system, introduced in India in September 2012, requires nonimmigrant visa applicants to create a profile at www.ustraveldoc.com/in after completion of Form DS-160, and to generate the payment code to remit the visa application fee. Following this, they must schedule the visa interview. In its original form, the system did not allow an applicant to modify the confirmation code provided by the Consular Electronic Application Center (i.e., the CEAC code). Readers may be aware that this CEAC confirmation code is generated as evidence of submission of the Form DS160 online. Recently, the system has been changed to permit primary applicant(s) to provide a new CEAC confirmation code, generated by submitting a new Form DS160.
This modification can be effected only up to midnight preceding the biometrics appointment. The code cannot be modified for any dependents that were added to the primary applicant's profile. For example, if a husband, wife, and child apply for a B-2 visa as a family, and the father is the primary applicant and adds the wife and child to his CEAC profile as dependents, the CEAC confirmation code can be modified only for the father in this example. An applicant may need to modify the confirmation code if s/he discovers any mistake on the Form DS-160 after “Signing and Submitting” the same.
Though this feature is available, it is important for U.S. visa applicants to spend sufficient time and verify that all information presented is accurate, prior to submission of Form DS-160. This will avoid multiple form DS-160s with conflicting information.
Nonimmigrant Visa Application, DS-160: Photo of Applicant Not Needed For Online FilingPosted: January 7, 2013
From time to time, we inform our readers about changes in the nonimmigrant visa application process in India. One such change, introduced in November 2012, is that the nonimmigrant visa application (Form DS-160), no longer requires the applicant to upload his/her digital photograph when completing the form online. Those filing online will notice that, upon completion of the DS-160, the words "Photo will be take at the ASC" will appear in place of the photo. A digital photo of the applicant will be taken at the Offsite Facilitating Center (OFC) -- also known as the Application Service Center (ASC) -- during the OFC biometrics appointment. This significantly reduces the effort and expense of the visa applicant.
Biometrics at Any Offsite Facilitating Center (OFC) for Nonimmigrant Visa ApplicantsPosted: January 7, 2013
With the introduction of new nonimmigrant visa process in India, effective September 26, 2012, most nonimmigrant visa applicants will be fingerprinted at an OFC using an ink-free digital fingerprint scan. Children under 14 years and elders over 79 years of age are not required to provide their fingerprints. Some applicants, like officials on government business, are likewise exempt from the fingerprinting requirement. However, personal employees, attendants and servants of A visa holders (A-3 visa applicants) and personal employees, attendants and servants of G visa holders (G-5 applicants) are still required to provide their fingerprints at an OFC.
When this new process was introduced, applicants could get their biometrics done only at the OFC in the same city as the consulate where the visa interview was to be conducted. With the recent change, however, a nonimmigrant visa applicant(s) can complete this process at any of 5 OFCs in India. The list of OFCs and their working hours/holidays can be obtained here.
Visa and Immigration Information Sharing Agreement Between USA and CanadaPosted: January 7, 2013
On December 13, 2012, the United States and Canada signed an agreement to share visa and immigration information of third-country nationals who apply for visas or travel permits for either country. This agreement is intended to increase the safety and security of the U.S. and Canada, and to facilitate legitimate travel and business. Under the agreement, the U.S. and Canada propose to share biographic data as well as information on prior visa refusals and removal from other countries. By 2014, the countries are expected to share biometrics data of visa applicants as well. More information on this can be found here.
Please click on the year to view news archive for respective year:
2012 2011 2010 2009