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US downplays visa denial issue

Last updated on: February 24, 2012 10:01 IST

US downplays visa denial issue

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Sanjay Jog in Mumbai

Francisco J Sanchez, US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, on Thursday downplayed the issue of H-1B visa denial to Indian companies.

 "The US government had no policy to single out any country, including India, in this regard. The US is quite keen to promote more trade and investment opportunities with India," Sanchez told Business Standard.

"There is a business climate in both the countries. Bilateral trade between the US and India was nearly $58 billion in 2011 and there was every potential to increase it further.

"I must tell you that of the total visas issued annually by the US, two-thirds are issued to Indian companies and persons."

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Sanchez, who is heading a trade delegation in the ports and maritime technology, was speaking at the sidelines of the inauguration of US Commercial Service Trade Information Center here in north west Mumbai.

Sanchez said that US companies are quite keen to invest in power generation, transmission, small grids, urban infrastructure, port and maritime.

Similarly, Indian companies are welcome to invest in the US as the government has investor friendly policies.

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To a question if India needs to open up multi-brand retail and encourage more investments in banking, financial services and insurance sectors, the US under secretary said: "India is a world leader in software and technology after the sector was opened up. Opening up of economy benefits the sector and the economy as a whole."

Sanchez's statement comes at a time when the data obtained from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services reveals that the agency has dramatically increased denials of L-1 and H-1B petitions over the past four years, harming the competitiveness of US employers and encouraging companies to keep more jobs and resources outside the US, according to a new report released by the National Foundation for American Policy, an Arlington, Virginia-based policy research group.

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In FY 2011, 63 per cent of all L-1B petitions received a Request for Evidence and 27 per cent were issued a denial, that means USCIS adjudicators denied or delayed between 63 per cent to 90 per cent of all L-1B petitions in 2011.

Country-specific data on new (initial) L-1B petitions indicate USCIS is more likely to deny a petition from an Indian-born professional than nationals of other countries.

The denial rate for Indian-born applicants for new L-1B petitions rose from 2.8 per cent in FY 2008 to 22.5 per cent in FY 2009, a substantial increase that resulted in many employers being unable to transfer their employees into the United States to work on research projects or serve customers.




Tags: USCIS , L-1B

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