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Number of Indian visa seekers to US increasing

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Aug 25: A day after reports appeared of US denial of a visa to a BJP leader and close aide to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a State Department official today claimed that Washington did not discriminate on the issue of giving visas and that the number of visa-seekers to the US was increasing.

The claim by Mr Peter G Kaestner, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs and Consul General, comes a day after reports said the US embassy had denied visas to the Gujarat Chief Minister's close aide and BJP spokesperson Purshottam Rupal and 74 others from the state.

Mr Rupal had applied for a visa to attend the three-day World Gujarati Conference in New Jersey beginning on September one.

Mr Kaestner said at a press conference here that there was no special provision for anybody, including Muslims, particularly after 9/11. ''There are no special rules for Muslims,'' he added.

However, they had to show that they would be going back to their countries.

He said the number of visa-seekers from India, including students, had been increasing and 30,000 immigrant visas were issued in India in 2005.

Replying to a question, the US official said the Hyderabad Consulate General Building was scheduled to open by 2008.

Efforts were being made to open it as soon as possible.

In Chennai also, construction had started for a Consulate General's office building.

Mr Kaestner admitted that post 9/11, the number of visa seekers from all over the world had decreased.

He said India is second only to Mexico among all countries for visa demand. In fiscal 2003-2004, the US embassy issued 277,000 and 305,000 non-immigrant visas respectively.

In 2005, more than 313,000 temporary visas and 30,000 immigrant visas were issued while in the first ten months of the year, issuances went up by 11.5 per cent.

More than 80,000 Indian students are in the US, the largest number among foreign students, and 33 per cent more students were given visas this year so far.

Last fiscal year, about 125,000 visas were issued, the official said.


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