US allays India’s visa concerns, backs easier business travel

By IANS,

New Delhi : Pitching for greater tourist and business travel between the US and India, US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice L. Jacobs Thursday said her country gained from such exchanges and highlighted the new policy of easing renewal of visas for Indians.

Speaking to Indian and American business leaders, Jacobs, who is currently in India to hold consular dialogue, underlined the “mutually beneficial” nature of the US-India business-to-business relationship and the US efforts to promote trade and economic development by facilitating travel between the two countries.

“Encouraging and facilitating tourist and business travel is one of the ways we can boost US exports – and create American jobs – the goals of the President’s National Export Initiative.

“International business visitors bring more with them than economic stimulus. They bring their talents, culture, and ideas, and we benefit immensely from our exchanges,” she said.

The interaction was organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in India (AmCham).

In this context, she referred to her announcement Wednesday that unveiled a new policy under which Indians renewing visas to the US within four years will be exempted from a personal interview. “This new programme will permit consular officers to waive interviews for some qualified applicants who are renewing their visa within 48 months or four years, of expiration of their previous visa and within the same classification as the previous visa,” Jacobs said.

She added that these new rules would apply “for tourists, business travellers, crew members and for students.”

Amid apprehensions in India about the US tightening norms for employment visas, Jacobs also clarified that the US has issued 67,105 H1B visas, a record of sorts.

Over 100,000 Indians study in the US, the second largest number of overseas students studying in various American universities.

The US has implemented a slew of steps to meet the burgeoning needs for visas in India.

In 2011, more than 670,000 non-immigrant visas were processed, marking an increase of more than 11 percent over the previous year. The US has also scaled up consular staffing by 60 percent in the last six years and has invested over $100 million in expanding consular facilities.

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