Atlanta‘s new Consulate General of India has settled into a new home in Sandy Springs, but those seeking relief from visa delays shouldn’t rejoice just yet.
While the new diplomatic outpost began handling consular inquiries for Indian citizens Oct. 1, has yet to select a contractor for visa processing, which will begin sometime next year, Ajit Kumar, India’s consul general in Atlanta, told Global Atlanta.
In the meantime, all visa applications for Georgia residents will continue to be handled through the consulate general in Houston, which has been decried for slow response times by some in the community.
The Atlanta consulate, which has jurisdiction over six Southern states, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 23 at 5549 Glenridge Drive. Unlike many diplomatic posts housed in high-rises around Atlanta, the Indian consulate stands alone to comply with internal security requirements, Mr. Kumar said.
A former medical practice, the palatial structure was purchased after a search throughout the metro area and renovated to fit the needs of the diplomatic mission, Mr. Kumar said.
“It’s just a question of finding the right property at the right time. We tried very hard and we went all over the place looking,” said Mr. Kumar, who arrived in Atlanta last year and had been operating out of a temporary office in Buckhead.
The hospitality of Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos in helping the consulate get up and running exemplifies the close relationships the new consulate will foster, said Nirupama Rao, India’s ambassador to the U.S., who attended the ribbon-cutting, which drew prominent members of the local Indian community and U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville.
Ms. Rao also envisioned Atlanta and surrounding areas sharing practices with fast-growing Indian cities as her country urbanizes.
“There’s a shift of population from the rural areas to the cities. Cities are expanding. We will have to devote a lot of time and attention and planning to how we want to build the cities of the 21st century, looking at the best technology, the best environmentally friendly methods to grow cities, infrastructure, universities, hospitals and everything,” Ms. Rao told Global Atlanta.
She added that U.S.-India trade (including services) crossed $100 billion for the first time recently and that the consulate would help facilitate new business connections with dedicated staff focusing on commercial issues.
For more information, visit www.indianconsulateatlanta.org.