Jaishankar in his discussion with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday raised the problem of the backlog of visa applications coming from India and the highest American diplomat stated that he was aware of the issue and was working on a strategy to tackle the issue.
Washington: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday raised the problem of the backlog of visa applications coming from India which Blinken, the highest American diplomat claimed that he was aware of the issue and has a plan to tackle the issue.
“It is important for us to work together to support the development and movement of talents. We agreed that any obstacles in this need to be addressed,” Jaishankar told reporters in a joint press event together with Blinken on Blinken’s Foggy Lower headquarters for the State Department here following their lengthy meeting of over an hour.
US visa officials are trying to reduce a backlog following Washington the US has stopped nearly all visa processing globally in March 2020 because of the pandemic.
Indians are a significant percentage of those who are granted the H-1B visa and various work permits issued to foreign workers with a high level of skill and many of them in the technology industry.
This visa is a non-immigratory Visa that permits US firms to employ foreign workers in special occupations which require technical or theoretical skills.
It is worth noting that the Indian Minister didn’t explicitly refer to the H-1B visa issue in the joint press conference.
“There is a strong curiosity about India’s education policy, and we’ll explore ways to best use it to further strengthen our partnership,” Jaishankar said.
“On mobility specifically visas. This is vital due to its significance to the business, education technology, as well as family reunions,” he added.
“There were some challenges in recent times and I have flagged this at Secretary Blinken and his team and I’m confident that they will take certain issues with serious and with a positive attitude,” Jaishankar said.
“Bear the brunt of us. The situation will unfold in the coming weeks, however, we’re keen on this,” Blinken said in response to a query when asked about the historical delay in visa appointments that are now stretching to 800 days.
In the case of the issue of visas “I’m very sensitive,” Blinken said.
Blinken has blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for the slowing of visa applications by Indian citizens.
“If you’re looking for consolation I can say the following: this’s a problem that we face all over the world, and it’s an outcome due to COVID. COVID pandemic. The ability of us to issue visas decreased dramatically with COVID,” He said while he explained the self-financing component of the issuance of visas.
“When COVID hit, the demand for visas dropped to the ceiling, and as visa fees dropped, the system, in general, was impacted. Of course, when it came to actually grant visas, even with smaller resources, we faced limitations by COVID on the number of people we could accommodate at our embassies moment,” he said.
Blinken stated that there was a plan in place to handle the situation.
“We are currently rebuilding our infrastructure with a lot of determination from the booming resource. We have a strategy, with regard to India to tackle the huge backlog of visa applications that have accumulated. I believe you’ll see it unfold in the next weeks,” he said.
“But this is something we’re particularly keen on. The connections, the people-to-people connections, whether they’re students, or businesspeople, tourists, or family members and friends, that’s what brings us all together,” Blinken said.
“The one thing we do not would like to do is to make it more difficult for the people we’d like to make it easier,” said the US Secretary of State.