The United States Embassy in India on Sunday said that it has started special interviews for first-time visa applicants on Saturdays in a bid to lower the wait time period.

The embassy also said that in order to accommodate visa applicants, consular operations were kept open in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad on January 21.

“In the coming months, the mission will continue to open additional slots for appointments to take place on select Saturdays,” the embassy said in a statement.

The appointment wait time for Indians seeking a visitor or a tourist visa for the US is long and had reached over 900 days in November. A month later, the White House had said that it was working on resolving the significant visa wait time period in India and other countries.

The waiting period of over 900 days was for those Indians seeking a B1 (Business) or a B2 (Tourist) category visa to visit the United States. Those seeking the visa appointment at the US Embassy in New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Chennai were expected to wait 999 days, according to the US State Department website.

The United States had said that the delay was due to a backlog created due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, the embassy said that it will deploy temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies in India to increase processing capacity.

“The Department of State is also increasing the number of consular officers permanently assigned to the embassy and consulates,” the embassy said. “By this summer, the US Mission in India will be at full staffing.”

The embassy added it has already waived interviews for applicants who have been previously granted visas to the US.

“Our consular teams across India are putting in the extra hours to meet the needs of international travellers and bring down wait times,” Mumbai Consular Chief John Ballard said. “This is part of a Mission wide effort to find innovative solutions to facilitate travel to the United States.”