India has raised its concerns at various fora over the increasing number of visa application rejections by America -- 28% decline L1 visas issued by the US to Indians in 2011, Parliament was informed today.
Professionals, especially in the IT sector, need L1 visa for execution of temporary onsite contracts.
In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, minister of state or external affairs E Ahamed said a report complied by the National Foundation for American Policy states that "the L1 visas issued by the US to Indians declined by 28% in US fiscal 2011 compared to 2010 while L1 visas issued globally (except India) increased by 15%".
He said the government is aware of difficulties faced by the Indian professionals in obtaining US visas, including denial of visas, increase in visa fees and other procedural difficulties.
"The government uses every opportunity, including during trade related meetings, to raise with the US government its concerns regarding visa difficulties faced by Indian professionals," he said.
In his meeting with US secretary of state Hillary Clinton here, the external affairs minister SM Krishna conveyed concerns over continuing difficulties on mobility of professionals, especially of IT companies, and protectionist sentiments in the US with regard to global supply chain in services industry.
As per industry experts, L-1 visa approvals declined to 25,898 in 2011 from 35,896 in 2010.
However, L-1 visas issued at US Posts worldwide (except in India) increased to 44,820 in 2011 from 38,823 in 2010.
The country has already proposed to take the US to WTO against the latter's visa fee hike, which discriminates Indian software companies from American firms.
On May 9, minister of state for commerce and industry Jyotiraditya Scindia had said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha that an American law (Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010) has substantially increased the fees for H1B and L1 categories of visas for applicants that employ more than 50 employee in the US or have more than 50 % of their employees admitted or non-immigrant visas (the "50/50 rule").
He had said Indian firms, including TCS, Infosys, Wipro and Mahindra Satyam, which fall under the '50/50 rule' appear liable to pay higher visa fees.