Washington: Automatic spending cuts in the US from March 1 could impact the visa processing time by the American missions in countries like India and China, the State Department has said.
"We are concerned that if sequestration happens, we could have major setbacks in really the herculean effort we've made to reduce wait times," the State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell, told reporters on Wednesday.
In recent years, the State Department has had a huge influx of hiring of new consulate officers in countries like India, China and Brazil, where lots of middle class folks who are trying to come to the US for the first time and visit and spend their money.
"It's good for the American economy," Ventrell said, adding that sequestration would have an impact on these consular services.
"It is impossible to say exactly how it would impact in each individual country.
"And indeed, as we get closer to this, I'll see what more I can provide for you on sequester would impact this Department, but there's no doubt in my mind and those who look at this closely that one of the areas that there'll be an impact on, obviously, is our ability provide consular services," he said.
"So we are concerned about that and it took a lot of effort to get us to reduce those wait times, and a lot of new hiring, a lot of new staff," Ventrell said in response to a question.
On March 1, an USD 85 billion budget cuts known as the sequester will go into effect. They will wipe out a host of federal programmes in everything from national parks to the Pentagon to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.