U.S. on track to issue more than a million visas to Indians this year: official

Donald Lu said that they are also prioritising work visas — H-1B’s and L visas, the most sought-after by IT professionals from India

April 22, 2023 12:22 pm | Updated 06:17 pm IST - Washington

Donald Lu, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia. File photo: Special Arrangement

Donald Lu, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia. File photo: Special Arrangement

The U.S. is on track to issue more than a million visas to Indians this year, a senior official has said, assuring that the Biden administration is committed this summer to make sure it processes all of the student visas for Indians whose school starts this fall.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu also told PTI in an interview this week that they are also prioritising work visas: H-1B’s and L visas, the most sought-after by IT professionals from India.

Also read: Spouses of H-1B visa holders can work in U.S., says judge

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

“We are on track to issue more than a million visas this year. This is a record for us along with a record number of student visas and immigrant visas,” Mr. Lu said.

Mr. Lu said the U.S. is committed this summer to make sure it processes all of the student visas for Indians whose school starts this fall.

Also read: U.S. to allow H-1B holders to renew visas without leaving country on pilot basis

There have been growing concerns in India over the long waiting period for first-time visa applicants, especially for those applying under B1 (business) and B2 (tourist) categories.

India is now number two in the world in terms of international students coming to the United States.

“We’ve also been prioritising work visas: H-1B’s and L visas. Wait times at some of our consular sections in India, for these visas are now below 60 days. We will continue to make sure that we prioritise visas for workers, as this is vital for both the American and the Indian economy,” Mr. Lu said.

“For certain petition-based nonimmigrant work of visa categories, we plan to restart domestic visa renewal for applicants who meet certain requirements, including being physically present in the United States. We plan to have a pilot up and running later this year. This would eliminate the need for these applicants to travel abroad to renew their visas,” he said.

Responding to a question on those Indian IT professionals who are on H-1B visas and have lost their jobs, Mr. Lu noted that the Department of Homeland Security recently put out some new information specifically on the point of what these workers ought to do who want to readjust their status.

India-U.S. relationship enjoys bipartisan support in the U.S., he said.

“I think part of the answer you can find in a really strong diaspora community in the U.S. For 30 years or more, our relationship is in part driven by Indian Americans who have lived here for decades, but still keep a very strong tie with India,” he said.

Over a million people fly back and forth between the two countries.

“That’s an amazing number given that we’re not close at all. It’s very expensive to fly back and forth. But those ties of people who moved here or maybe their parents come from India, those ties remain. They haven’t been cut by immigration,” he said.

“In fact, we now know that over 1,00,000 Americans are living in India as well. This relationship is very much to weigh and benefits both of us. Yeah. So, I think that’s true for political parties as it is for families in the U.S.. Growing up I had many Indian American friends. I think that’s just part of the fabric of the United States,” Mr. Lu said.

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