US: Taking steps to facilitate biz visas

NEW DELHI: The US on Tuesday said that the Biden administration is taking steps to facilitate issuing business visas for Indians, while maintaining that it is entirely up to New Delhi to decide if it wants to join the trade talks under the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).
“It is up to each government… it is up to the Indian government to decide when it wants to join,” Arun Venkataraman, US assistant secretary of commerce for global markets, told reporters. A meeting of IPEF members is scheduled in Delhi next month.
The visit, he said, will be a launch pad for significantly enhancing engagement between the two countries.
“Companies in each country are doubling down on the India-US economic corridor and our governments have a shared commitment to ensure that our respective private sectors continue to play a vital role in enhancing each government’s domestic objectives as well as our shared objectives around the world,” he added.
He also said that US commerce secretary Gina Raimondo will visit India in March leading a delegation of top American CEOs.
Asked about the visa issue, which was taken up by the Indian authorities during a recent meeting of the India-US Trade Policy Forum, Venkataraman said that significant progress has been made in issuance of business visas in India, and America is taking several steps like increasing the number of staff to further facilitate the process here. He said that “incredible” progress has been made for issuance of visas for students here.
At the business side, “we have also made significant progress by issuing more H1B and L visas in 2022 than we did even in 2019 before the pandemic, that is a significant improvement. We are in the process of ramping up our staff… Is there more work to do? Yes, there is more work to do and we are committed to doing that.”
“We are doubling the number of direct hires, we have to facilitate the issuance of visas here at the embassy and we are also working to bring on diplomatic spouses to also work in the process in the areas of visas. So, we are continuing to take steps… We have already made progress and are issuing more visas than we ever did before,” Venkataraman said.

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