India IT firms say US rejecting business visas

Indian artist Basavaraju S Gowda holds a bottle containing a framed portrait of President Obama and Indian PM Manmohan Singh on November 4, 2010 President Obama is to meet Indian PM Manmohan Singh during his visit

The US is rejecting a growing number of Indian visa applications and interviews border on interrogations, Indian information technology firms say.

Nasscom, an umbrella organisation of IT firms, said it had written to the US ambassador to convey its concern.

India's government has also been informed, it said. There was no immediate response from the US embassy.

President Barack Obama begins a three-day India visit on Saturday. It is not known if the issue will come up then.

"Nasscom... said it had received complaints from member-companies and had taken up the issue 'appropriately' with the US embassy in New Delhi," the Times of India newspaper reported.

"The letter is said to have pointed out that the firms affected are all 'perfectly good companies' which have 'met all guidelines'," the paper added.

OBAMA VISIT: INDIAN ISSUES

  • India to ask questions on US's planned exit from Afghanistan next year
  • Delhi's concern that Islamabad uses the US military aid against India
  • India will seek end of sanctions on US exports of 'dual-use' technology which could also be used to build long-range missiles
  • Delhi to seek Obama's support for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council
  • Fee increase for H1B visas
  • Obama's stand on outsourcing of jobs to India
  • Rise of China and implications for India
  • India activists expect PM Manmohan Singh to raise the Bhopal issue

India and the US have forged close trade ties in recent years. In 2008, the two countries signed a deal for civil nuclear co-operation.

But, there has been growing concern in Washington that outsourcing to cities such as Bangalore - the IT hub in southern India - is worsening unemployment in the US.

President Obama recently spoke out against outsourcing of American jobs to countries like India and offered tax breaks for those creating jobs in the US.

Also recently, the US Border Security Bill hiked the fees for H1B and L1 business visas, leading to protests from Indian IT firms.

The issues of outsourcing and visa fees are expected to come up in talks during President Obama's visit.

But analysts say the president's drubbing in mid-term elections this week is expected to tie his hands when it comes to bold policy moves on India.

On Wednesday, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said Delhi was not expecting any "big bang" results from the visit.

She said there would be positive outcomes, but it was not time for another "big bang".

Mr Obama arrives in Mumbai (Bombay) on Saturday morning where he is due to meet Indian business leaders and address a meeting of the India-US business council.

In Delhi, he is due to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday and address a joint session of the Indian parliament.

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