The US visas will soon go ‘paperless’, completely eliminating the traditional practice of stamping or pasting visas on passport pages.
Recently, the Biden administration concluded a successful pilot project for “paperless visas” at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Dublin and plans to gradually implement this digital visa system, marking a significant shift in visa processing.
What is a paperless visa?
According to Julie Stufft, deputy assistant secretary of state for visa services, in the case of the paperless visa, the visa process will remain the same, but there will be no physical visa in the passport.
“That will ultimately…require an app or something that allows people to show their visa status without the physical paper in their passport,” she said.
Is a paperless visa the same as e-visa?
No, this is not the same as e-visas issued by India to nationals of certain countries, mostly to tourists.
“We don’t call it an e-visa [like India] because we have the same visa process up to the point of the paper. So, an interview is still required by law. If you are a first-time applicant, you will apply in the same way with the same forms. If you are getting a paperless visa, it will look all the same until the point where there is no paper,” Stufft said.
Will it be available to Indians?
Yes, it may be. Stufft said she hoped paperless visas would be issued to Indian nationals as well.
Also Read: Malaysia goes visa-free for Indians
When will paperless visas be rolled out?
Stufft said the paperless visa won’t be rolled out in 2024. “It will take us probably 18 months to have widespread use of this or longer,” she added.
“I hope [it is rolled out] as soon as possible. But this is a long-term project that we have just piloted,” Stufft told news agency PTI.
“Now we are branching out to other types of visas. We started with our embassy in Dublin. Because there is an airport facility there with US officials who could check it before someone boarded a plane. We fully expect to expand that regionally and throughout the world. It will be piece by piece though,” she added.
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