Fraudulent requests for visa in India alarms US
The US embassy has expressed alarm over the recent rush in visa applications in India to gain fraudulent entry into America, resulting in inordinate delays in the processing time for genuine candidates.
Some 50 arrests have been made in this connection in the national capital alone, US diplomats said in New Delhi on Wednesday.
"In New Delhi alone, the rate of refusal has jumped 60 per cent in recent weeks," Charge d' Affaires Geoff Pyatt said, adding that some agencies were making gullible people believe they can get them US visas fast, bypassing the system.
"In the light of this rush and the wake of reports on human smuggling to the US and other countries, the US mission to India is increasing its vigilance to eliminate illegal smuggling and visa fraud," Pyatt said.
Last month, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP was arrested at the Indira Gandhi International Airport while trying to smuggle out two persons to Canada, using the passports of his wife and son.
"Almost Rs 10 million ($250,000) was spent by people whose visa applications had been turned down," added Minister Counsellor Peter G Kaestner. He said the missions received 63,000 applications with an average visa fee of $100 in April.
"The bulk of such fraudulent applications were from rural people with no hope at all in gaining entry into the US," Kaestner said. "They were clearly not non-immigrants."
According to Kaestner, the sharp increase in fraudulent visa applications was resulting in delays of as many as six weeks in the processing time otherwise taken at the consulate in Mumbai.
The embassy in New Delhi followed next with a delay of three weeks, followed by one week and two days, respectively, in the consulates in Chennai and Kolkata, he added.
The US embassy and its consulates in India had received 460,000 applications in all visa categories between Oct 1, 2005 and Sep 30 last year, and expected the number to go up to 600,000 in the corresponding period this year.
"There are individuals and companies who are taking advantage of Indian citizens by suggesting they can provide a shortcut to an American visa. This is something that is not a fact," Pyatt said.
"We especially want to tell everyone in India that no firm or person can help you obtain a US visa. The only way is to present legitimate documents," he said.
"The US government cooperates with the government of India on the arrest of people with false documents and those who seek to gain US visas fraudulently," Pyatt said.