Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Delhi to clear visa pleas by Pak-born Americans

Washington: Authorities in New Delhi will now clear visa applications by Pakistan-born American citizens to visit India--work which was earlier done by the Indian embassy in Washington and consulates.

The Indian Embassy in Washington has tightened visa approval norms for Pakistan-born American citizens after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) uncovered a plot by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba to launch terrorist attacks in India. A Pakistan-born US national, David Coleman Headley, has been arrested for allegedly being a part of the plot.

Union Home Secretary G K Pillai has issued an order according to which all applications for Indian visa from Pakistani-born US nationals would now be processed and cleared by New Delhi.

Because of the good relationship between India and the United States, American citizens never have had any problem in receiving the visa. Besides, the Indian Embassy in Washington, the Indian Consulates in New York, Houston, Chicago and San Francisco too issue Indian visas.

As the new visa regulations came into force, an intense discussion has begun on Internet forums and blogs about alleged delays in issuing Indian visas to Pakistan-born US nationals.

"I applied for a tourist visa for India in April earlier this year and received it within a week. I made a visit to India in September and applied for another visa upon my return on September 18, 2009," wrote Noni Fayyaz, who described herself as a US citizen born in Pakistan, on a travel forum.

"I went through TRAVISA; it has been a month and I do not have the visa yet. I have called TRAVISA several times but all the tell me is that I should wait and that they have not heard anything. Their website shows the status as "Documents received by consulate," Fayyaz said.

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