U.S. to roll out ‘paperless visa’ as it successfully completes pilot program

United States visas stamped or pasted on passport pages of applicants could soon be a thing of the past as the Biden administration has successfully completed a pilot project for issuing “paperless visa”, according to an official.

The United States recently completed the small-scale programme at its diplomatic mission in Dublin and it plans to gradually roll it out.


“We did our first small scope pilot of a paperless visa, which means that the visa process is the same but there’s no physical visa in someone’s passport. We just piloted this for the first time, so this is not something that’s going to be happening in the next year,” Julie Stufft, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, told a group of foreign correspondents at a media round table organised by the Foreign Press Centre.  

“It will take us probably 18 months to have widespread use of this or longer. But it is very exciting that we have had this first step where we have actually seen visitors come through and, in this case, they were immigrant visas without a physical paper in their passports.

“That will ultimately, in the future, as some other countries do, require an app or something that allows people to show their visa status without the physical paper in their passport. We are very, very excited about that,” she said.

Responding to a question, Stufft said she hopes paperless visas will be issued to Indian nationals as well.

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“I hope as soon as possible,” Stufft told PTI. “But this is a long-term project that we have just piloted for the first time. I think we will see widespread use of this not for another year or so, or maybe longer,” she said.

“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.

“That is the main difference between an e-visa like in India and this visa. But just the ability for people to renew their visas without a piece of paper means people can keep their passports. There will be fewer problems with sending things through the mail. It just will have tremendous benefit for both the applicant and for us,” Stufft said.

“We have already done the small pilot. 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 said.

Story by Press Trust India


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