Relax visa norms for Indian professionals, India tells US

India has strongly taken up the difficulties US visa issue with the Obama Administration.

Updated: Mar 19, 2010, 11:14 AM IST

Washington: India has strongly taken up the difficulties faced by its companies and American MNCs in getting a US visa for Indian professionals with the Obama Administration and asked to make sure that the issue does not hinder the fast growing trade and commerce ties between the two countries.

Concluding his three-day trip to Washington, Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma, said that he effectively raised the visa issue with top Obama Administration officials, in particular those being given to Indian professionals; who are in a very high demand in the US.

"I have the issue of visas, particularly for the professionals. Given the fact that a large number of Indian entities are engaged here generating employment and creating wealth," Sharma said.

Noting that there has been significant agreements between Indian and the US cooperate entities, he said recently Bharati group has given USD 2.5 billion contract to the IBM.

"We have Indian professionals visit the countries, or go to work in other countries in the USA or for that matter other parts of Europe.

Arguing that the impression that Indian professionals eat into the jobs of the Americans was "not correct", he said "in India, we have large number of multinationals which have their R & D hubs in India. More than 130 of the Fortune 500 countries have already established their bases in India. So it is mutually rewarded."

He said that chairmen and CEOs of who`s who of the US industry have expressed need for greater understanding and creating sensitivity about the contributions made by Indian companies and also the fact that India was not a net exporter of services.

"We are net importer of services too. So, the impression that the jobs are lost was not correct. I do expect that the business leaders in the US would make special effort to inform and sensitise those Congressmen and women who may not have been adequately informed or may have certain misgivings, which I share," Sharma said.

The Minister, at the same time, did concede the delay in issuing of Indian business visas to US business has been discussed in the past.

"It was not only vis-a-vis US, but other countries as well. We had a comprehensive visa review and at no stage our policy was intended to restrict business visas or create difficulties for those who generally come and work," Sharma said dismissing concerns being expressed by the US business on delay in issue of Indian business visa to US professionals.

He said that all Indian missions have a complete clarity on the visa policy. In fact, an advisory has been sent to all Indian missions through foreign ministry last week Indian Ambassador to US, Meera Shankar said by and large business visas have been issued fairly promptly.

"I think there have been some questions about the new rules that have come out of India for revisiting India in two months primarily on security grounds. Those apply to tourist visas. They do not apply to business visas," she said.