CHENNAI: As the United States is starting to have immigration tracking system installed in major airports, US Consulate in Chennai has started recording all the ten fingerprints of its visa applicants while announcing renewals without interview.
Interestingly, the scanning of fingerprints of visa applicants started in August 2004 when both index fingers were scanned. This also comes in the wake of US senate panel backing biometric tracking system at all US air, sea and land ports of entry last year. Interestingly, since 2008 United Stated consulate in Chennai has made it mandatory to have fingerprints of all 10 fingers taken.
“Those who have got visa after August 1, 2004 but before January 1, 2008 and submitted two prints have to make an appointment at our Chennai Visa Application Center where you can have your fingerprints taken and drop off your renewal application,” US consular chief Lawrence Mire told reporters during exclusive media tour of US Consulate General Chennai Consular section. But those below 14 years and above 80 years are exempt from it, says Mire.
“Our goal is to facilitate legitimate travel to the US. Already this year we have sent over two lakh travelers to the US. This is as many as 1,500 visas per day,” he said. This also comes in the wake of arrest of a owner of a tourism firm in Bengaluru on Tuesday for heading a fake US visa racket, involving forging documents to facilitate US visas for his clients. But Mire is unfazed saying US has proper checks in place and doesn’t consider it a threat anymore.
He also said that US consulate has made the renewal process simpler by waiving off the interview. However, it does have some criteria, he said. He said till now they have given 13,500 visas under the new scheme. “We hope this is likely to grow further,” Mire said.
He assured that using Interview Waiver Programme and mailing the documents is faster and easier than spending two days in Chennai for fingerprints and interview. He also urged the students to schedule their visa interviews 120 days prior to report date mentioned on their I-20 form.
“Some applications may require additional administrative processing. We don’t want you to miss your first day of school or your riveting conferences,” he said. Factfile: --- US consulate in Chennai handles most L-1 and H1-B applications in the world ---- It is currently the 11th largest non-immigrant visa adjudicating post in the world ---- It adjudicated approximately 25pc of all H-1B visas (40,000) --- US Consulate General Chennai processed over 242,000 non-immigrant visa applications, a 13 pc rise over pervious year ---More than 21,000 students visas were processed, up by 43 per cent from last fiscal year Interview Waiver Programme: --- Those received visa after Jan 1, 2008 are eligible --- Applicant has no refusals for a visa in any category ---The applicant has a previous US visa in the same class as the visa her/she wants to renew --- if applying for B1/B2, C1D or J Visa, the prior visa in the same classification is still valid or expired within last 48 months