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Mumbai, Oct 14: Snaking queues of people waiting for an appointment with US visa authorities may soon be a thing of the past. Going all out to clear a huge backlog of applications for non-immigrant visas, the American Consulate in Mumbai has flown down both equipment and personnel from US to help them tackle the issue on a war footing.

"Earlier, it would take people two to six months to get an appointment for their visa application. Now they can simply log on to and schedule an appointment in six days flat," said Glen Keiser, the new Consular Section Chief during a press conference on Thursday. Those who have already been given appointments later this year can also log onto the website and re-schedule themselves for an earlier date.

As part of a makeover, the consulate is also planning to increase the number of windows and shifts to service applications. Consul General Michael Owen said though the visa halls had 230 seats, over 600 people were showing up daily for appointments. "We have already increased the number of windows from seven to 10 and we are also planning to work in two shifts. The first shift will be from 8 am to 1 pm and the second shift will be from 1 pm to 6 pm," said Owen.

"We also plan to work on alternate Saturdays," he added. The consulate also plans to shift base from its cramped quarters in Breach Candy to Bandra Kurla Complex by April 2008.

The new building will have twice the existing number of counters so that applications are processed rapidly. Seating arrangements too will be upgraded to eliminate the system of queues altogether.

Keiser said that the consulate wanted to increase the number of applications processed each day from 7,000 to 14,000, which would make Mumbai one of the busiest consulates of the United States in the world.


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