VisaFly https://visafly.co.uk Visa Services Made Simple Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:32:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Infosys whistleblower case: Judge calls for mediation https://visafly.co.uk/infosys-whistleblower-case-judge-calls-for-mediation/ Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:32:53 +0000 https://visafly.co.uk/infosys-whistleblower-case-judge-calls-for-mediation/
Infosys whistleblower case: Judge calls for mediation

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde gives a speech at a special forum preceding in Tokyo.



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New Delhi:

The US federal judge hearing whistleblower Jack Palmer’s visa fraud allegation case against IT major Infosys has ordered a mediation conference to be convened on July 24 to settle the case according to the US based itbusinessedge website. The offer of mediation is for the civil case between Palmer and Infosys, and not for the grand jury probe against Infosys for which the trial comes up in August.

A mediation conference is a process by which parties submit their dispute to a neutral third party who helps them reach a settlement.

Infosys told NDTV Profit that this is a standard procedure in such cases.

“U.S. District Court Judge Myron H. Thompson ordered counsel for both sides, or representatives with full authority to settle the case, to attend the conference. The two sides were directed to provide to the mediator, on or before July 23, confidential mediation statements that were not to be filed with the clerk’s office or to be served on each other,” itbusinessedge reported.

Shares in the company underperformed the broader markets and traded 1.3 per cent lower at Rs 2,448.60 on the BSE. The Sensex was down 0.2 per cent to 17,504.

What is the visa fraud case:
In May 2011, Infosys received a subpoena from a grand jury in a US District Court in connection with a lawsuit filed by one of its US-based employee.

The employee, Jack Jay Palmer, had alleged that Infosys was misusing B1 businesses visas issued by the US. B1 visas are issued for short-term business visitors and not for employees being sent onsite on work.

Palmer later told US news broadcaster CBS that the first thing to catch his attention was an employee that had been in the US from India several times before. He then began digging into how and why Infosys seemed to be bringing in large numbers of workers from its corporate headquarters in Bangalore into the US.

Palmer alleged the Indian workers on his team were paid substantially less than an American would have made in the same job. When the US State Department began to limit the number of H-1B visas, Palmer said Infosys began using another type of visa, the B-1.

The B-1 is meant for employees who are travelling to consult with associates, attend training or a convention. But Palmer said the employees were brought in not for meetings, but for full time jobs.

Infosys on visa fraud allegations:

Infosys has earlier said in a statement televised by CBS that Palmer’s “allegations make for an interesting story, but it is not the facts”. A judge and jury will have the final say on Palmer’s accusations later this summer in an Alabama civil court case, it added.

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Infosys under US security scanner:

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is also investigating the company for errors in the I-9 forms used by an employer to verify an employee’s identity and to establish that the worker is eligible to accept employment in the US. Every employee hired has to complete an I-9 form at the time of hire.

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Being denied an India visa a deep wound: Salman Rushdie https://visafly.co.uk/being-denied-an-india-visa-a-deep-wound-salman-rushdie/ Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:32:41 +0000 https://visafly.co.uk/being-denied-an-india-visa-a-deep-wound-salman-rushdie/
Being denied an India visa a deep wound: Salman Rushdie


London:

Describing not being able to visit India for over 12 years as a “long exile,” controversial India-born writer Salman Rushdie says that being denied a visa and Indian embassies abroad keeping away from him was a “deep wound” inflicted on him by India.

Mr Rushdie’s 1988 book, ‘The Satanic Verses’, was soon banned in India, where passions were aroused by the book and for years authorities denied him a visa to prevent any trouble.

Leaving India in 1987 after shooting a documentary, Mr Rushdie writes in the third person in his newly-released memoir, ‘Joseph Anton’: “He did not know it then, but this was the beginning of a long exile.”

A British citizen, Mr Rushdie adds: “After India became the first country in the world to ban The Satanic Verses it would also refuse to give him a travel visa… He would not be allowed to come back, to come home, for twelve and a half years.”

Describing the impact of the book’s ban and Iran’s ‘fatwa’ to kill him, Mr Rushdie writes that “the wounds inflicted by India were the deepest.” There was no question, he was told, of his being given a visa “to visit the country of his birth and deepest inspiration.”

Mr Rushdie recalls being told that he was also not welcome at the Nehru Centre in London.

“He was not even welcome at the Indian cultural centre in London because, according to the centre’s director (and grandson of the Mahatma) Gopal Gandhi, his presence there would be seen as anti-Muslim and would prejudice the centre’s secular credentials,” he writes.

Mr Rushdie recalls that in 1997, he was similarly asked to stay away from official celebrations of 50 years of India’s independence in New York. When Indian officials in New York were told that he was in town, Mr Rushdie writes that “they backed away as if confronted by a rattlesnake.”

Mr Rushdie was granted a visa in 1999, but did not travel following a furore when news of his impending visit reached India. In 2000, he travelled to New Delhi for an event where Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best Book was to be announced (it went to renowned South African writer J M Coetzee).

Delighted to be in India after the “long exile”, Mr Rushdie travelled to Solan to visit his ancestral house, and then to New Delhi where, after initial fears of trouble were belied, he was warmly welcomed and feted.

One reason for the change in 2000, he writes, was that his controversial book had become “old hat.”

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“Oh, there’s a novelist in town for a dinner? What’s his name? Rushdie? So what? This was the view taken, almost without exception, by the Indian press…The script in people’s heads had been rewritten…What burst out in the city was not violence, but joy.”

Earlier this year, Mr Rushdie pulled out of the Jaipur literary festival due to alleged threats to his life.

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Victory for tech industry: H1B visas could double: report https://visafly.co.uk/victory-for-tech-industry-h1b-visas-could-double-report/ Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:32:32 +0000 https://visafly.co.uk/victory-for-tech-industry-h1b-visas-could-double-report/
Victory for tech industry: H1B visas could double: report


Washington:

In a major victory for the tech industry, US visas for high-skilled foreign workers, including those from India, could double under a bipartisan Senate immigration plan, according to the Washington Post.

The proposal would also give permanent legal status to an unlimited number of students who earn graduate degrees from US universities in science, technology, engineering or math, the influential US daily reported citing people familiar with the negotiations.

The number of H1B visas for highly skilled workers would approximately double from the current limit of 65,000 per year under the plan of eight senators working on a deal between the Congress and the White House to overhaul the immigration system, it said.

Critics suggest that H1B programme has become a way for outsourcing firms to bring lower-paid employees to the US. Most of the top 10 employers of H1B visa holders, for instance, are India-based technology consultancies with large US operations,

Those firms often train workers in the United States before sending them back home to do the same jobs for considerably less money, according to critics cited by the Post.

The Post cited these critics as saying that companies commonly use the visa to bring employees from India to work in the US for up to three years, train them and then return them to India to continue the same work, often for a US company buying the services from a contractor.

But advocates for tech companies welcomed the developments, describing the still-evolving immigration plan as a potential watershed moment.

“We’re encouraged,” Scott Corley, executive director of Compete America, a coalition of companies that includes Intel, Google, IBM and other tech giants, was quoted as saying by the Post.

The foreign-worker piece of the immigration debate has been one of the thorniest for the eight senators, who are trying to reach a full agreement among themselves by Friday, the daily said. Staffers will then take the next two weeks to draft a bill.

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The Post citing familiar with the talks said the senators group has agreed to a citizenship plan that would immediately legalise millions of undocumented immigrants, including about 250,000 Indians, but would require certain expenditures on border security and internal enforcement before allowing people to gain a path to citizenship.

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Foreign tourists to get collective landing permits https://visafly.co.uk/foreign-tourists-to-get-collective-landing-permits/ Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:32:23 +0000 https://visafly.co.uk/foreign-tourists-to-get-collective-landing-permits/
Foreign tourists to get collective landing permits


New Delhi:

With a view to attract more foreign tourists, government has decided to provide collective landing permits.

According to the revised procedure, foreign tourists in groups of four or more arriving by air or sea and sponsored by Tourism Ministry approved Indian travel agencies are to be granted collective landing permit for a period not exceeding 60 days.

They should also have a pre-drawn itinerary and will get multiple entry facilities to enable them to visit neighbouring countries

In order to avail this facility, the tourists or travel agencies shall have to fill an online application mandatorily.

As per the requirement, a complete list of members along with printed visa application and their itinerary should be submitted by the tourists or travel agencies to the Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office or Foreigner’s Registration office at concerned cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkatta, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Calicut, Goa and Lucknow 72 hours in advance.

The tourists or travel agencies will be required to give an undertaking to conduct the group as per the itinerary and extend a further assurance that no individual would be allowed to drop out from the group at any place.

Prime Minister’s Office has been monitoring the progress of visa simplification procedure.

Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi had met Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde recently in this context, when he was assured that Ministry of Home Affairs would simplify visa procedures further.

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Welcoming the new initiative, Mr Chiranjeevi said, “This is a move forward and would go a long way towards boosting group travel to India, and would also give a boost to the tourism industry in the country.”

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US working with India to streamline education visa process https://visafly.co.uk/us-working-with-india-to-streamline-education-visa-process/ Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:32:13 +0000 https://visafly.co.uk/us-working-with-india-to-streamline-education-visa-process/
US working with India to streamline education visa process


Washington:

The United States is working with the Indian Government to streamline the latter’s education visa, which is being considered as a major hindrance for American students wanting to go to the country for education, a top Obama Administration official has said.

Though more than 100,000 Indian students come to the US for study every year, the number of American students who studied in India in 2011-2012 was a mere 4,300 and far less than those going to China for studies.

Even as more American students would like to go to India for studies, not many are able to travel because of the difficulties they face in getting the education visa.

“We recognise that there are indeed challenges and hindrances which have prevented more American students from choosing India as a destination,” the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, told students at the Boston University yesterday.

“We are working with the Indian government to streamline education visa processes, which have been repeatedly identified as a key reason for why so few American students go to India,” Blake said in his remarks.

“And through a grant from our Embassy in New Delhi, the US-India Educational Foundation is working with Indian institutions of higher education to encourage more US students to study there, including by developing better housing and support offices for foreign students,” he said.

The Obama Administration has launched ‘Passport to India’ initiative to send more and more American students to India for studies.

The United States is also working with businesses and foundations to increase opportunities for more Americans to experience India during their college or university years through study abroad, internships, and service learning opportunities.

This complements other State Department-sponsored programs for study abroad, including Fulbright, Gilman, and Critical Language Scholarships.

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Passport to India now has 10 partnerships with companies as diverse as Honeywell, United Airlines, Citigroup, which have created hundreds of new opportunities for American students in India.

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India intends to extend visa on arrival for 40 countries including US and UK https://visafly.co.uk/india-intends-to-extend-visa-on-arrival-for-40-countries-including-us-and-uk/ Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:31:41 +0000 https://visafly.co.uk/india-intends-to-extend-visa-on-arrival-for-40-countries-including-us-and-uk/
India intends to extend visa on arrival for 40 countries including US and UK

India’s share in the international tourist receipts in the year 2012 was 0.64 per cent with overall ranking of 41. (File photo of Delhi’s IGI airport)



New Delhi:

India intends to extend visa on arrival facility to tourists from 40 more countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Australia, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, a move which will make the country a more tourist friendly destination and promote foreign exchange earnings.

The Planning Commission has called a high-level meeting of different ministries and National Security Advisor on Monday to deliberate on the feasibility of the move.

“We have called a meeting on October 7 to discuss the possibility of extending tourist visa for 40 more countries as this could help in garnering more foreign exchange and containing the current account deficit,” Planning Minister Rajeev Shukla told PTI.

The current account deficit is the difference between inflow and outflow of foreign exchange. During 2012-13, the CAD was at all-time high of 4.8 per cent of GDP or USD 88.2 billion. Government proposes to bring it down to USD 70 billion or 3.8 per cent of the GDP.

According to the Minster, Commission’s Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and senior officials from concerned ministries like tourism, external affairs, home affairs are expected to attend the meeting. National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon will also participate in the discussions.

Mr Shukla said, “Tourism Ministry has raised the issue of tourist visa regime as impediment in the growth of foreign visitors in the country which ultimately results in lesser foreign exchange earnings.”

According to the minister, India’s visa regime has deflected foreign tourists from the US, Canada and Europe to Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal.

The other countries for which this facility can be extended include Germany, France, Italy, Swedan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Poland, Norway, Ireland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Israel, Mauritius, Czech Republic, Oman, Argentina and Kazakhstan.

In 2012, India received 6.58 million foreign tourists, up 4.3 per cent over the previous year. India’s foreign exchange earnings in 2012 from tourists were USD 17.74 billion, showing an increase of 7.1 per cent year on year.

India’s share in the international tourist receipts in the year 2012 was 0.64 per cent with overall ranking of 41. The country’s share in international receipts in the year 2012 was 1.65 per cent with overall rank of 16.

Foreign exchange earning from tourism during January to August 2013 were USD 12.025 billion with a growth of 6.7 per cent, as compared to USD 11.273 billion year on year.

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Under the visa on arrival system, India has agreement with different countries, including Japan, Finland, Singapore, Indonesia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos and Myanmar.

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India warns US of consequences on visa reform https://visafly.co.uk/india-warns-us-of-consequences-on-visa-reform/ Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:31:33 +0000 https://visafly.co.uk/india-warns-us-of-consequences-on-visa-reform/
India warns US of consequences on visa reform


New Delhi:

India has warned the United States of consequences for its companies if lawmakers tighten visa rules on high-tech firms as part of an immigration overhaul.

Ambassador Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said that India would see a decision to restrict certain temporary visas for skilled workers as a sign that the US economy is becoming less open for business.

“We think this is actually going to be harmful to us. It would be harmful to the American economy and, frankly, it would be harmful to the relationship” between the two countries, Jaishankar told AFP in an interview.

“Once I feel I’m not getting a fair deal, I am less responsive to the concerns of the other party. Then tomorrow if an American company comes and says, ‘You know, we’ve got this set of problems,’ the temptation for me is to say, ‘I’m out for lunch,'” he said.

The Republican leadership of the House of Representatives recently laid out general principles for an overhaul of immigration — whose main goal would be to give legal status to the estimated 11 million undocumented foreigners in the United States.

A version passed last year by the Senate, which is led by President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party, offers automatic immigrant visas for foreigners who earn advanced science degrees at US universities. But it changes rules on so-called H-1B visas, which are issued to skilled workers who come temporarily to the United States.

The Senate bill, while increasing the overall number of H-1B visas available, would hike fees and restrict additional H-1B visas for companies considered dependent on such foreign workers. The move came after complaints by US companies and labor groups that Indian tech firms bring in their own, lower-paid employees rather than hiring Americans.

Jaishankar charged that the changes attacked the business model of India’s showcase IT industry, which he said was making the US economy more competitive by helping companies operate round-the-clock.

The ambassador said he raised his concerns in meetings with more than 25 members of Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, since he arrived in Washington in December.

‘Scare-mongering’ by drug companies

Another prominent lawmaker, Senator Orrin Hatch, recently called India “the biggest battlefield” for intellectual property rights and accused the country of “rampant piracy and counterfeiting” to benefit its own industries.

Hatch made his remarks at the US Chamber of Commerce, which released a report that ranked India at the bottom of 25 countries in protection of intellectual property.
Jaishankar said he was “very surprised” by Hatch’s remarks and charged that the pharmaceutical industry was driving criticism of India, with few complaints about intellectual property rights in other sectors.

India has a major generic drug industry that produces cheaper copycat versions of life-saving branded medicines. But Jaishankar said it was incorrect to suggest that a “huge number of patents” was under threat.

“I would very honestly describe it as scare-mongering tactics and, frankly, I don’t think it’s helpful,” he said. “If there is an expectation that by doing this, we are setting ourselves up for a serious conversation, I think someone’s got something wrong.”

“Affordable health care is the number one issue in the United States. There is almost a presumption here that what is a legitimate concern for Americans should not be a legitimate concern for Indians,” he said.

Jaishankar arrived in Washington amid one of the worst crises in years between the world’s two largest democracies after authorities in New York arrested an Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, on charges of underpaying her domestic servant and lying on her visa application.

Jaishankar said that Indians “disagree strongly” with the US treatment of Khobragade, who returned to India under a deal after an indictment, but played down the impact on overall ties.

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He said that India and the United States — whose relationship has rapidly grown since estrangement during the Cold War — shared common interests on security and political issues.

“I would not assume that there’s something structurally wrong or some revisiting of the basics of our relationship,” he said.

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Indonesian Election Presents US With Narendra Modi-Style Visa Headache https://visafly.co.uk/indonesian-election-presents-us-with-narendra-modi-style-visa-headache/ Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:31:21 +0000 https://visafly.co.uk/indonesian-election-presents-us-with-narendra-modi-style-visa-headache/
Indonesian Election Presents US With Narendra Modi-Style Visa Headache


Washington:

The emergence of Prabowo Subianto as a serious contender in Indonesia’s election this week means the United States faces the awkward possibility of having to welcome another Asian leader it had denied entry to because of alleged links to mass killings.

The situation has arisen days after Washington found itself having to change course and promise a visa to Indian Prime Minister-Elect Narendra Modi after his landslide election win. Mr Modi was barred from the United States in 2005.

The possibility of another Washington U-turn became apparent after Indonesia’s second-largest party on Monday suddenly switched its support to Mr Prabowo from frontrunner Joko “Jokowi” Widodo ahead of July 9 presidential polls.

Mr Prabowo was once one of Indonesia’s most reviled men, accused of kidnapping, human rights abuses and a coup attempt after the 1998 overthrow of his former father-in-law, the late President Suharto.

A New York Times report in March said that in 2000 the US State Department denied the former general a visa to attend his son’s university graduation in Boston, but has never said why.

Mr Prabowo told Reuters in 2012 he was still refused a US visa due to allegations that he instigated riots that killed hundreds after Suharto’s overthrow. He has denied wrongdoing.

According to Amnesty International, Mr Prabowo was dismissed from the Indonesian military in 1998 for his role, while commander of Special Forces Command (Kopassus), in the disappearance of political activists.

Mr Modi was denied a US visa in 2005 under the terms of a 1998 US law which bars entry to foreigners who have committed “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

He has been accused of links to religious riots in his home state of Gujarat in 2002 in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died.

However, after Mr Modi’s party swept to victory in elections last week, US President Barack Obama was quick to telephone his congratulations and invite the new leader of a country he has declared a vital strategic partner to the White House.

The State Department said Mr Modi would be granted an A-1 visa accorded to heads of state. Mr Modi has also has denied any wrongdoing and has never been prosecuted in India.

An A-1 visa carries with it diplomatic immunity and is issued automatically – unless opposed by Mr Obama, who has the authority to deny entry to anyone who has committed “crimes against humanity or other serious violations of human rights, or who attempted or conspired to do so.”

Asked if Mr Prabowo would be treated the same as Mr Modi if he won Indonesia’s election, a State Department official responded with statements similar to those before India’s poll result – saying the department did not discuss individual visa cases.

“Applicants traveling on official business on behalf of their government are subject to limited grounds of ineligibility under US immigration law. However, we cannot speculate on the outcome of any visa application,” he said.

The official added that the United States remained “committed to close relations with Indonesia and expect that relationship to continue.”

Analysts believe that Mr Prabowo, like Mr Modi, would be granted a visa if he wins the election.

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Ernie Bower, a Southeast Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said that like this week’s martial law declaration in Thailand, the Prabowo case is an unwanted headache while Washington is trying to forge stronger ties in Southeast Asia in the face of an increasingly assertive China.

“For the United States, it is most important to focus on the mandate of the Indonesian people. Washington must embrace and work with whichever candidate is elected.”
 

© Thomson Reuters 2014
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What About Visas for Indians? Reciprocity Needed https://visafly.co.uk/what-about-visas-for-indians-reciprocity-needed/ Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:31:12 +0000 https://visafly.co.uk/what-about-visas-for-indians-reciprocity-needed/

(Rahul Venkit is a Brussels-based multimedia journalist from India reporting on Europe for a Chinese news agency.)

India recently expanded a visa-on-arrival scheme to include 43 countries – among them Australia, Brazil, Germany and the US.

The liberalized visa regime will eventually be extended to 180 countries, aimed to help India improve its dismal record in attracting international tourist visits.

As a proud Indian and a believer in efficient processes, I cannot be happier for my foreign comrades. Bravo, I say.

But before we hand out congratulatory high-fives all around, may I be so audacious as to point out something? I’m confident I speak on behalf of all Indians when I do so.

I’m talking about the simple, time-honored concept of reciprocity and, more specifically, the lack thereof.

The world may be becoming a global village. And, indeed, people may be travelling beyond borders more than ever before.

But let’s not fool ourselves – for many there are also more bureaucratic barriers to international travel than ever before. It’s just that those that can travel easily have been too busy taking their privilege for granted to notice.

We live in a world where, if you’re lucky enough to be born in the right place, you can pretty much waltz into any country that tickles your fancy. But heaven knows if you’re from the developing world, you don’t have the luxury of being as spontaneous.

Even as the Narendra Modi government seems to be moving full steam ahead in implementing reform that will benefit foreigners visiting India, for many Indians, these countries cannot take reciprocal steps soon enough.

For the curious, if you don’t hail from a rich country, there is an all-too-familiar-yet-ever-strenuous process before being allowed to set foot abroad.

The following are some of the standard documents one needs to compile:

– travel itineraries
– hotel reservations
– invitation letters
– official letters of undertaking
– proof of insurance
– recent salary documentation
– bank statements
– tax clearance certificates
– letters from your employer
– your host’s immigration, employment and financial details

Indeed, the<a href=”https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/343241/2014_08_Visitor_Documents.pdf” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> supporting documents checklist </a> can be virtually endless.

If you’re really lucky – like me – you’ll even be asked to provide police clearance certificates. That’s where the thumb rule “innocent until proven guilty” is thrown out of the window. The fact that even to this day one is presumed to be a criminal until you produce documents from the police stating otherwise beggars belief.

In the developing world, visas are accepted as a fact of life. In countries like India and China, the quest for this necessary evil has spawned an entire industry of agents and advisers who collect and push your papers for you.

Many have the art of visa applications down to a science. Some even approach it as a competitive sport. Yet there’s always a lingering tension – will you get your visa or won’t you? All sorts of worries, some more rational than others, plague your mind.

Is your bank balance big enough? Will some mean-spirited visa officer who had a bad breakfast that morning or a fight with the spouse the night before take it all out on your application? Will you end up becoming a sorry statistic? After all, embassies must have rejection targets too.

If the anxiety fails to age you horribly, the treatment meted out to you in embassies never fails to make you feel like a worm and/or a fool for wanting to set foot in another country.

Nevertheless, the drama is considered part of the build-up to any trip abroad. Should you get your passport back with a shiny visa sticker in it, you rejoice, pump your fists in the air and praise the lord.

Nothing makes you cherish a journey more than an arduous visa application process. Any one from the developing world will tell you so.

Are current visa rules for people from developing countries reflective of a changing global reality? While illegal emigration is a legitimate global concern, should tourist visas be as big a problem?

No one denies that in every country there are an unscrupulous few who abuse the system, overstay their visas or “vanish” once abroad, some Indians being no exception.

But the answer cannot be painting a fifth of humanity with the same broad brush. There must be smarter ways of distinguishing between genuine travelers and those seeking to run away.

Especially keeping in mind that despite the recent global slowdown, countries like China and India boast GDP growth rates that debt-ridden Europe and the US can only dream of.

Inflation and equitable distribution of wealth remain major challenges. Yet the middle class in emerging nations is expanding quickly, as is their disposable income. A culture of being thrifty also means developing country folks often have substantial savings stashed away for a rainy day.

Emboldened by this economic progress, emerging nations are slowly but surely flexing their muscles on the global stage. They are certainly less tolerant when pushed around.

A case in point: after the US removed Brazil from its visa waiver program, Brazil in 2004 returned the favor by demanding visas from and fingerprinting visiting US citizens.

In late 2010, the UK decided its embassy in Brussels would no longer entertain visa applications from people living in Belgium, directing them to Paris instead. So India reciprocated half a year later by refusing to process visas for UK nationals in Belgium, directing them to London instead.

As of mid-2014, the UK restarted accepting visa applications in Brussels… in an office open two mornings a week and at an additional cost of 75 Euros.

Are such tit-for-tat measures the solution? Not in the long run, since they would lead to protectionism and be detrimental to growth.

Most from the developing world would find the “retaliatory” visa process for first-world citizens a joke since it’s largely a formality and not even a fraction of the pain they go through.

For example, if your country isn’t yet part of India’s e-visa scheme, all that’s basically asked is a valid passport, local residence card, completed application form, photos and money.

(Though, lately, Indian visa centers abroad are demanding proof of residence dating back two years, which is tough when you’ve just moved to a new city. And if you happen to be a journalist, things can take longer even if your trip is purely for pleasure).

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Not to forget, things are slowly but surely changing for Indians as well, with up to 50 countries and territories now offering us visas on arrival. Last week, France announced it would open 8 new visa centers in India and process applications within 48 hours. One can only hope more nations follow suit.

This article was originally published on <a href=”http://www.theglobalist.com/india-to-the-world-visa-reciprocity-please/” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> The Globalist </a>

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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Make In India? Okay, First Sort Out Visas https://visafly.co.uk/make-in-india-okay-first-sort-out-visas/ Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:31:03 +0000 https://visafly.co.uk/make-in-india-okay-first-sort-out-visas/

(Jean-Pierre Lehmann is an emeritus professor of international political economy at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. He is currently a visiting professor on the Faculty of Business and Economics at Hong Kong University.)

India is a country I know reasonably well. Although I have never lived there, I have been visiting regularly since 1960. Also, a quite high proportion of my closest friends are Indians, whether they still live there or are members of the extensive Indian diaspora.

I have great affection – and, in many respects, admiration for India.

The immediate context in which this article was written is what readers who are regular foreign travelers to India will recognize as “PIVASS” or the “POST-INDIAN-VISA-APPLICATION-STRESS-SYNDROME.”

I, for one, have gone through this ritual annually, but the experience hasn’t got better the more often one succumbs to its tentacles.

In fact, this year was one of the worst.

Given my background with India, my position as a visiting professor in India and current emeritus professor of a globally respected institution, <a href=”http://www.imd.org/” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> IMD </a> in Switzerland, what I am trying to accomplish on these visits is something presumably considered quite worthy of support by Indian authorities.

I am trying to teach and advise Indian youth on global transformations, challenges and implications for India.

To get all the papers filled out and answer all the – at times – incredible questions requires huge effort and time.

This time, all this was dutifully done and everything was in order:

1. My passport is still valid for ten years.
2. My airline tickets in and out are confirmed.
3. The letter of invitation from the President of the University where I am visiting professor was provided.

With all that in hand and humbly submitted, I should have been sailing smoothly through the visa application process, right? After all, I am quite a regular. And while I am not an investor myself, I teach and advise business leaders. That should make me a good representative of the FOIs (friends of India).

Also, as is advised, I submitted my visa application more than two weeks before my departure date.

Smooth sailing? Well, no. I received a very distressed e-mail from my assistant to say that the application had been rejected.

Of course, I sent an e-mail protesting the visa rejection, knowing that would be to no avail. So I contacted a prominent Indian government official friend to intervene on my behalf – which he promptly did and soon after, I got the one-year multiple entry visa I had applied for in the first place.

The grounds for the rejection, as it turned out, had been entirely based on a mistake made by the consular officials.

Of course, “PIVASS” is a syndrome that appears in many facets of Indian life, notably in the so-called License Raj!

This systemic inefficiency and penchant for administrative messes reflect much of the corruption, lethargy, inefficiency, poverty, economic underperformance and social injustice that mar India today – and gravely undermine its future potential.

It also explains why India, the size of its vast market notwithstanding, is not the prized destination for foreign investment that it should be.

As India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi knows full well, such investment would provide a considerable boost to performance and competitiveness.

Prime Minister Modi wants things to change. A recent issue of The Economist noted that Mr. Modi wants better performance: “He says a more welcoming bureaucracy – even, if you can imagine it, in visa offices – will encourage investors. The prime minister wants India to be among the top 50 in the World Bank’s ‘ease of doing business’ index. It is currently 134th.”

The tendency to present itself as a bureaucratic nightmare unfailingly presents India as a closed country.

Instead of offering a welcome mat, one is greeted with the equivalent of a scowl. It is extraordinary that a country that has some of the greatest global minds and truly global intellectual clout should have such petty, narrow-minded officials as the Indian face to the outside world.

To that end, there is a new campaign: <a href=”http://www.makeinindia.com/” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”>MAKE IN INDIA</a>.

The headlines on the website read:

“A MAJOR NEW NATIONAL PROGRAM. DESIGNED TO FACILITATE INVESTMENT. FOSTER INNOVATION. ENHANCE SKILL DEVELOPMENT. PROTECT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. AND BUILD BEST-IN-CLASS MANUFACTURING INFRASTRUCTURE. THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO MAKE IN INDIA.”

That is all reasonable enough – and is certainly something that India should go after with great resolve.

However, grave doubts are in order. As long as there is PIVASS, the chances of the Make-in-India campaign succeeding are nil.

This matters greatly. Soon, India will become the most populated country in the world, with a total populace of 1.6 billion! Unlike China and other East Asian countries that have rapidly aging populations, India has a huge demographic dividend.

India is an old civilization, but equipped with a very young population. Some 100-million jobs need to be created over the next decade. If the Make-in-India campaign collapses, as it most likely will, IF PIVASS prevails, it will be the young sick man of the global economy.

India has a tremendous amount to contribute to the planet. Conversely, if that potential remains just that – potential – because it fails to materialize, then the whole planet will suffer the consequences.

The stakes are very high, indeed. If India continues to be an underperformer, with chaotic governance and social injustice, it is not just India that will suffer, although Indians – and especially the vast young generation – will clearly suffer the most.

Mr. Modi, you know what’s at stake. You have taken a first step to make sure the petty-minded bureaucrats have been made to realize how much is at stake. Many more steps must follow to secure India’s global future.

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This article was originally published on <a href=”http://www.theglobalist.com/make-in-india-but-can-india-make-it/” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> The Globalist </a>

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