A Large Number of U.S. Visas goes to Indians
Date: Monday , October 05, 2009
Of the total 6.6 million visas issued worldwide by the U.S. government last year, about 630,000 went to Indians in their home country and abroad with 'Mission India' benefiting 560,000.
The U.S. Consulate in Chennai, which covers all South Indian states, issued around 230,000 visas in 2008, which is 2.5 times the number of visas issued in 1999. The government had issued 95,000 visas in 1999. "People think that we had issued only 55,000 visas last year, but this is not correct," says the Chennai based U.S. Consulate Officer Ravi Srivastava. Of the 230,000 visas issued, about half were for travel purposes, 36 percent were work visas and for the dependents of the applicants, and nine percent were for students. The rest was for VIPs and others.
A majority of Indians were traveling to the U.S. on B-1 and B-2 visas. "We have the largest non-resident Indian community living in the U.S. There are as many as 2.57 million Indians there, about four times that of Mysore's population," adds Srivastava. Political-Military and Nuclear Affairs Second Secretary David Holmes adds that 90,000 Indian students were studying in the U.S, which is the largest number among all immigrants studying in that country.
In the last few years, the relation between India and the U.S. has grown stronger. Srivastava, who was addressing members of the Mysore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, denied discrimination based on religion while awarding visas or visa applications being rejected in large numbers. Obtaining visas depended upon factors like convincing the visa officer on the reason for visiting the U.S. and not for settling down there. "You have to be credible. We look into that only," says Srivastava.
According to S.M. Krishna, the Union External Affairs Minister, nuclear science, science and technology, climate change, education, and trade and agriculture are five pillars that strengthen the Indo-U.S. relationship.