US -bound visitors from India growing at 20%

Kolkata, Mar 28 | Updated: Mar 29 2007, 07:21am hrs
India may overtake China and take the second position after Mexico in terms of the number of people going to the US by 2011, according to Paul M Fermoile, the US consulate chief in Kolkata.

"India may overtake China and take the second spot as Indian services to the US market is witnessing a steady rise," Fermoile said.

Henry V Jardine, the US consul general here, said the growth in the number of Indian visitors to the US is being driven by the US education sector, the growing Indo- American business and the rising personal income of the Indians.

The US embassy and three consulates in India have been reporting a 20% annual growth in number of visa applications processed, against 10% from the US offices in China.

In China, the US offices handled 3,70,000 visa operations in calendar 2006. In India, the US offices handled 3,58,000 operations in the same period.

"We would not be surprised if visa processing in India grows by 50% by 2011," Fermoile said.

The Chennai consulate has 26 consular officers since it processes the highest number of visas. Mumbai follows with 21 officers, New Delhi with 19 and Kolkata with only three at present.

The US would soon open a consulate in Hyderabad with eight consular officers to serve the south Indian visa demand. The number of consular officers in Kolkata will be increased from three to six.

Jardine said the Kolkata consulate processed around 25,000 visas in calendar 2006, which may just double by 2011.

According to Fermoile, the US cleared 89% of the visa applications processed last year in India.

Of the total number of non- immigrant visas issued, 49% are business & tourist visas, 33% worker visas, 8% student visas. 3% exchange visitor visas, 5% crew and shipping visas and 1% each for pilgrims and entertainers.