Hyderabad: After the US lifted pandemic restrictions and opened its borders for international travellers on Monday, travel agents are receiving overwhelmingly high number of queries on flight services and ticket prices. People who intend to travel on short-term visas are being cautious due to high ticket prices and uncertainty over pandemic restrictions, while some others with emergency reasons are rushing to book tickets.
While those who have been held back in India due to the restrictions are keen on travelling back to the US, issues like delays in visa slots could mean many students should be waiting until June. Short-term visa holders, however, are making plans to travel, though many are prioritising only in case of emergency. “A lot of senior citizens and short-term visa holders are rushing to book tickets to the US now. But this time around, we are not witnessing bookings from students who would generally visit India around Christmas every year,” said Fathima, a representative of a travel agency in the city.
However, there is high demand for flight tickets from students who have already been issued the visas, contrary to the regular routine of Indians flying back to Hyderabad for the holiday season every year. “Overall, the mood is upbeat among long-term visa holders like students and employees with the lifting of restrictions. While some of the students have already begun coursework online, a majority of students have been waiting for visa slots,” a representative of a city-based immigration consultation firm said. Some students have even made plans to take a gap year due to the pandemic restrictions, he added.
Facebook live session today on visa processing
Amid concerns about visa processing among applicants after the US opened its borders, the US mission to India is holding a Facebook live session on Wednesday. “The US mission to India invites all visa applicants to join a Facebook live session hosted by our minister for consular affairs, Don Heflin,” the official twitter account of the US Embassy in New Delhi said.
Visa applicants can attend the session at 4 pm on Wednesday on the US Embassy India's Facebook page. “Heflin will discuss the current operating status and visa processing at consular sections across India and take questions from our live audience,” the tweet added.