Washington DC : According to a high-ranking official, the United States is set to issue over one million visas to Indians in the current year, with a firm commitment from the Biden administration to process all student visas for Indians whose schools begin in the fall, during the summer season.
In a recent interview with Press Trust of India, Donald Lu, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, confirmed that the United States is prioritizing the issuance of work visas, including H-1B’s and L visas, which are highly sought-after by IT professionals from India.
The H-1B visa is a type of non-immigrant visa that permits US-based companies to hire foreign workers for specialized occupations that necessitate theoretical or technical expertise.
Tech companies rely on the H-1B visa to hire a significant number of employees annually from countries such as India and China.
Mr. Lu stated that the United States is on track to issue over a million visas this year, marking a new record for the country in terms of the total number of visas, including student visas and immigrant visas.
Mr. Lu assured that the United States is dedicated to processing all student visas for Indians whose school begins in the fall during the summer season.
There have been rising concerns in India regarding the extended waiting period for first-time visa applicants, particularly for those applying under B1 (business) and B2 (tourist) categories.
Currently, India holds the second position worldwide in terms of the number of international students coming to the United States.
Mr. Lu stated that the US has been giving priority to work visas, including H-1B’s and L visas, resulting in reduced wait times at some consular sections in India to below 60 days.
He emphasized that prioritizing visas for workers is crucial for the economies of both the United States and India.
According to Mr. Lu, the US plans to restart domestic visa renewal for certain petition-based nonimmigrant work visa categories, for applicants who meet specific requirements, such as being physically present in the United States.
The pilot program is expected to be launched later this year, aiming to eliminate the necessity for these applicants to travel abroad for visa renewal.
In response to a query about Indian IT professionals who have lost their jobs and are on H-1B visas, Mr. Lu mentioned that the Department of Homeland Security has recently issued updated guidance on the steps these workers should take to readjust their status.
According to Mr. Lu, the relationship between India and the US enjoys support from both parties in a bipartisan manner.
Mr. Lu highlighted that the strong bond between India and the US is partly driven by the vibrant and influential Indian American diaspora community in the US, who have maintained a strong connection with India despite living abroad for several decades.
More than a million individuals travel frequently between the two nations, maintaining regular flights in both directions.
“That’s a remarkable figure considering the significant distance between the two countries and the cost associated with flying back and forth.
However, the strong ties of individuals who have migrated to the US or have Indian heritage continue to persist, and these ties have not been severed by immigration,” he expressed.
“In fact, we have come to understand that there are now over 100,000 Americans residing in India as well.
This relationship is mutually advantageous and holds significance for both nations.
It is evident in both political parties as well as among families in the US.
During my upbringing, I had numerous Indian American friends, which is just a part of the diverse fabric of the United States,” Mr. Lu stated.