New Delhi, June 29 (IANS) To draw the maximum number of Indian tourists, the US has introduced a new visa programme for certain categories, which will allow an applicant to get a visa without being interviewed in person, the US envoy said Friday.
"US Department of State has implemented a programme that will allow certain applicants to apply for visas without being interviewed in person at a US consular office," US Ambassador to India Nancy J. Powell said here.
Under the Interview Waiver Programme, it will become easier for Indian citizens to visit US for business meetings and tourist activities, she hoped.
Those applying for same category visa as granted earlier or applying at the same place (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata) where the previous visa was issued will be eligible for this new visa scheme.
Besides, those who have no prior refusal for the same visa category and whose previous visa is still valid or has expired within last four years can apply under this programme.
Speaking at a tourism promotion event here, Powell expressed happiness over the fact that over 6.5 lakh Indians visited US in 2011.
"Travel and tourism to the US is an important way for us to expand our cultural and commercial ties and increase trade growth between our countries. Total spending by Indians travelling to the US was $4.6 billion last year, up 15 percent from the year before," she added.
She said that India is expected to cross one million visitor mark by 2015 and leap into the league of top 10 countries of tourists to the US.
Powell also said the Barack Obama administration will continue to find more ways to make travel from India to the US as simple as possible.