Wed, 29 Dec 2010 11:22:41 GMT

Indian consulates in US delay visa issuance

Washington: The Indian-American community has complained of "inordinate" delay by the Indian embassy in issuance of visas, claiming that it is mainly due to imposition of new rules and acute shortage of staff at various consulates.


The community, which staged peaceful protest demonstrations at various Indian consulates in the US -- Houston, San Francisco and Chicago -- earlier this month, now plans to raise this issue with top officials of Indian government during 'Pravasi Bharatiya Divas' in New Delhi next month.

The outsourcing of visa application process three years ago at the initiative of the then Indian Ambassador, Ronen Sen, has not helped the situation either. In some places like Houston and San Francisco, the delay in issuing visas has run into four weeks.

Authorities say that the strict enforcement of the new visa rules comes in the wake of the lessons learnt from the case of David Coleman Headley, a Mumbai attacks plotter. "The problem is compounding every passing day," said Los Angeles-based Inder Singh, President of Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) International.

Now headed for New Delhi to attend the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Singh was instrumental in holding a town hall meeting of Sushmita Thomas, Consul General of India, San Francisco, with the Indian-American community in the area.

"The sufferings of people have come to a point that we cannot keep quiet anymore," Ramesh Shah, a leader of 'Ekal Vidyalaya' in Houston said. Shah had organised a day-long fast in Houston to protest against the delay in issuing of visas by the mission there.

Another community activist, Vijay Pallod, alleged that he was informed by the Houston consulate that it will take a minimum of four weeks to get a visa, which used to be a one-day procedure earlier.

(Continued)
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