WASHINGTON D.C.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is working to reduce the backlog in visa applications from Indian nationals wishing to enter the U.S.
He made his comments while meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, while discussing issues facing Indians when applying for visas to work and live in the U.S.
After Washington halted most visa processing in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. visa services are still clearing the backlog.
Indians make up a large proportion of H-1B and other work visas granted to skilled foreign workers, many of whom work in the tech industry.
This week, the U.S. Embassy in India said that while visa appointments were open for all categories, waiting times remained "significantly" high due to demand.
In a joint press briefing with Blinken, Jaishankar said, "On mobility, specifically visas, this is particularly crucial, given its centrality to education, business, technology and family reunions."
Blinken said he was "extremely sensitive" to the issue, adding that U.S. capacity to issue visas dropped significantly during the coronavirus pandemic.
"When COVID-19 hit, the demand for visas fell through the floor, visa fees went away, and the system as a whole suffered," he said.