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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 9, 2007
US tighten visa regulations to stop human trafficking
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US tighten visa regulations to stop human trafficking

The US Mission in India has tightened visa regulations in the wake of a large number of fraudulent applications and human trafficking.

New Delhi, May 9 : The US Mission in India has tightened visa regulations in the wake of a large number of fraudulent applications and human trafficking.

The move comes after receiving a large number of 'unqualified' applicants for visa to the United States and the recent attempt by a lawmaker to smuggle out a woman and a boy on the diplomatic passport of his wife and son.

The Mission said the number of visa applications during the current year- 2006 October to 2007 September - is expected to increase to 600,000 from 460,000 a year ago for all categories.

"We see this in two ways- partially as consumer fraud that people are taking advantage of the hope of some Indians who are looking for better economic opportunities, and are tricking them into spending a hundred dollars plus the consultancy fees, which are considerable to apply for visas and then they are being refused. The other thing is that more unqualified people that come into the queue, it takes the room away from the qualified people. Because we only have a certain capacity at any one time in India," said Peter G. Kaestner, Minister for Consular Affairs in the American Embassy in New Delhi.

Kaestner said the Mission was alarmed by the rise in 'unqualified' applicants seeking visa to the United States.

He said the Consular Division in New Delhi alone had rejected almost 60 percent applications this year.

He, however, added that the US has not changed its regulations, but only tightened the system to plug frauds, especially after the recent attempt in human trafficking by suspended BJP MP Babubhai Katara.

"Our visa regulations and laws have not changed. In fact, we have actually tightened up our fraud and amount of effort that we put into finding fraudulent applications in the last year or so. The MPs scandal is just one example of the kinds of things that are going on in India that we are alert to," said Kaestner.

Kaestner said while the United States encourages legitimate Indian travellers, travel advisors have been misleading visa-seekers. He also warned prospective travellers to the United States to obviate middlemen, who claim to provide short cut to an American visa.

According to the State Department, South Asia accounts for second highest number of victims of trafficking.

India was among 32 countries on US' "watch list" of countries involved in human trafficking.

Besides India, China, Russia, UAE, Malaysia are some of the countries in the "Tier 2" Watch List for 2006 by the US State Department.

ANI

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