The United States issued a historic total of 10.4 million visas in 2023, marking a new record.

The Department of State’s visa processing capacity has surpassed expectations, with a significant increase in nonimmigrant visas (NIVs) issued worldwide in 2023 compared to previous years.

According to recent statistics, 230 US Embassies and Consulates globally issued a total of 10.4 million visas in 2023, marking the highest number of nonimmigrant visas granted in a decade. March 2023 alone saw over one million visas issued, the highest monthly number since 2017.

In a press release by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, efforts to streamline visa processing and reduce wait times for visitor visa applicants requiring in-person interviews were highlighted. The Bureau aims to have over 90 percent of overseas posts with visitor visa interview wait times under 90 days by 2024, with plans for technological enhancements to facilitate visa processing.

During the pandemic, the Department of State implemented measures to improve efficiency, including waiving in-person interviews for certain visa categories like students and temporary workers essential to US industries. This led to a 40 percent reduction in in-person interviews for over 10.4 million travelers in the past year.

Additionally, significant strides were made in immigrant visa processing, with 563,000 immigrant visas issued and a notable reduction in the overall immigrant visa interview backlog. The Department prioritized student and exchange visitor visa interviews, resulting in the issuance of 830,000 visas in this category, contributing billions annually to the US economy.

Furthermore, record-breaking numbers of seasonal agricultural and non-agricultural worker visas were granted in 2023, supporting critical sectors of the US economy and providing a legal alternative to irregular migration. Visas issued to airline and shipping crewmembers also reached an all-time high, ensuring the continuity of international transportation and supply chains.

Despite the Department’s efforts to expedite visa processing, some visitor visa applicants still experience extended wait times due to high demand. The Department advises applicants to explore alternative embassies or consulates with shorter wait times and assures them that choosing an appointment outside their home country will not disadvantage them.

Looking ahead, the Department is working on launching a pilot program for the domestic renewal of employment visas in January, which will allow many temporary workers residing in the US to renew their visas without traveling abroad. Based on the results of this pilot program, the Department plans to expand the domestic renewal program to accommodate more applicants and petition-based visa categories in 2024.

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