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US consulate to stay open

Staff Reporter
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Officials say visa, library and other services will continue for the time being

Allaying anxietyThe US Consulate in Chennai has clarified that its activities will continue both in India and abroad —File Photo
Allaying anxietyThe US Consulate in Chennai has clarified that its activities will continue both in India and abroad —File Photo

Two days before his United States visa interview, Pravin Kumar, an engineer from Nellore is anxious. He is already in Chennai and is hoping his interview takes place as scheduled on Friday.

“I have been checking with the Consulate officials every hour. I hope the interview does not get cancelled,” said the 29-year-old, who is all set to go to Boston to pursue a short-term management course. 

The US government has officially shut down for the first time in 17 years, after its Congress failed to reach a deal on a piece of healthcare legislation. This, say industry experts, may have an effect on American services in India, especially visa processing, leaving IT employees, students and others travelling to US worried about the fallout.

However, US Consulate officials in Chennai have clarified that activities carried out by the Bureau of Consular Affairs will continue both in India and abroad – indicating that visas will continue to be issued and passport operations too, will take place.

Even if a government shuts down, Department of State and USAID activities can be sustained on a limited basis for a short period of time, an official from the Consulate said. 

“Our passport agencies will remain open and operational. Please note that all Consular services for US citizens and visa applicants continue to operate normally at this time. The American Library, Chennai remains open. However, the US Consulate and American Library in the city will be closed on Wednesday in honor of Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday,” said a statement on their website.

Ganesh Ramanathan, a company consultant said that if the shutdown in the US extends beyond 15 days, it will impact the issue of new visas. “Fresh applications for visas begin in the first week of October. If the shutdown continues, it will affect travel,” he said.

Paul Chellakumar, visa and education consultant said that since 90 per cent of students enrolled in courses in the US this season have already left, there will be very few who would be affected. “But this is also the time students are filling up forms and paying fees for courses in January. It will really affect their budgets. Everything depends on how long the shutdown continues.”

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