Streamlined Visa Processes to Boost Business and Professional Travel Between the US and India

Feature and Cover Streamlined Visa Processes to Boost Business and Professional Travel Between the US and India

In a significant development for business and professional travelers, the United States is set to implement a faster visa approval system, expected to take effect from April. The announcement was made during the US-India Trade Policy Forum meeting held in New Delhi last Friday, led by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and US Ambassador Katharina Tai.

During the meeting, Goyal emphasized the need to expedite the processing of E-1 and E-2 visas, commonly sought by businessmen involved in import-export and those working in the US on an investment basis, respectively. Goyal stated, “It takes a lot of time to get E-1 and E-2 visas, a demand to reduce the time was put before America.”

According to Goyal, the revised visa procedures will come into effect in April, resulting in a quicker turnaround time for visa applications. This change is anticipated to ease the challenges faced by professionals seeking these specific visas. He also addressed a longstanding concern regarding the visa renewal process for families of H1B visa professionals working in the US.

Goyal mentioned that while H1B visa professionals will no longer need to return to India for visa renewal, their families had not been granted the same convenience. India had formally requested the extension of this facility to the families of H1B visa holders, and Goyal revealed that the US has provided a positive assurance regarding this demand.

The streamlined visa processes will particularly benefit businessmen involved in import-export activities, as they commonly require E-1 visas. Similarly, individuals engaged in investment activities in the US, who apply for E-2 visas, will also experience a reduction in the visa application processing time. Currently, obtaining these visas involves a lengthy process that can span several months.

Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal highlighted the discussions that took place during the forum meeting, emphasizing the mutual interest in increasing participation in government procurement between the two countries. Barthwal stated, “In the forum meeting, increasing each other’s participation in government procurement of both the countries was seriously discussed.”

He further elaborated on the potential benefits of enhancing India’s involvement in US government procurement, noting that it could significantly boost Indian exports. However, Barthwal also emphasized the need for reciprocity, indicating that the US would need to provide opportunities for Indian businesses in its government procurement processes.

The move to expedite visa processes aligns with the broader goal of fostering stronger economic ties and facilitating smoother business interactions between the US and India. The positive assurance from the US government regarding the extension of visa renewal facilities to the families of H1B visa professionals is a noteworthy step toward addressing concerns within the Indian professional community working in the US.

As the implementation of these changes is expected to begin in April, businesses and professionals can anticipate a more efficient and streamlined visa application process, ultimately promoting increased collaboration and economic exchanges between the two nations.

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