Despite a recent steep hike in fee, there is no drop in the number of visas issued to Indian professionals by the US government, a top US official said.
Michele Bond, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, also said that the Hyderabad consulate stood fifth in terms of the number of student visas issued.
“We do understand Indian companies’ concerns of the higher visa fee, that is (for) H1B and L1 visas. As we said before, those fees are not targeted at India….it is worth knowing we see no drop in interest in H1B and L1 visas since the change in the fee,” Bond said at a press conference here.
The US, under the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, has introduced a special fee of $4,000 on certain categories of H1B visas and $4,500 on L1 visas. Almost all Indian IT companies pay between $8,000 and $10,000 per H1B visa as per the hike.
The US consulates in India issued about a million visas of all types last year, Bond said, expressing hope that the figure will go up as the two countries have decided to make 2017 as the year of travel and tourism. “So far in this year, Indian workers have received 72 per cent of all the H1B visas issued worldwide. Similarly, Indian workers have received 30 per cent of all L1 visas (long terms business visas) that we have issued worldwide,” she said.
The US issued 81 per cent more business and tourist visas in India than that issued five years ago, Bond said. India is, by far, the largest beneficiary of H1B visas which are issued to skilled workers, she added. About the incidents of denial of entry to some Indian students at the US airports, Bond said Homeland Security Department might have received different information about the students at the time of arrival.
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