Do US consular officers in India take bribe to offer visas to big Indian companies?
This was an interesting question that came from an online forum recently. The person adds: “The reason for question is that I have seen some third party individuals claiming that “their” company has setting with the consular officers and hence higher acceptance rate etc.”
With this backdrop, here is the fact: These cases of corruption are too few and far between to be statistically relevant. The U.S immigration system and State Department have sufficient checks-and-balances to quickly identify bad-apples and make sure justice prevails.
Think; if there were allegations of ‘big Indian companies’ bribing US consular officers, Wouldn’t Mr. Trump have already tweeted about it?
These companies have extremely strong ‘visa departments’ with efficient processes and people. The visa department representatives work with line managers and applicants to ensure the right paperwork is submitted accurately, with the right references, supporting letters, credentials etc.
The visa-departments and their consultants continually seek the latest updates on visa processing from embassies and consulates, and are quick to update their processes when new requirements are identified.
Visa departments also have a closed-loop with candidates to ensure they learn from success, and a few rejections.
Visa departments also work with line managers to plan ‘demand’ for resources, especially timed around the ‘H1 Visa’ lottery filing deadlines. These steps ensure an extremely low rate of rejection of visas (compared to rest of the applicant pool).
Hard, grunt work at a large scale is the secret of success, and not ‘corruption’ or ‘bribery’
How do I know? I experienced the efficiencies of Visa Department @Infosys many years ago.
Cutting corners while applying for naturalization is risky and the penalty for doing so is harsh and the US government is very unforgiving as Balbir Singh alias Ranjit Singh discovered.
US citizenship is a privilege that many legal immigrants aspire to. It takes a lot of persistence and effort to be granted this right by the US government. Of-course the benefits of a US citizenship are many and well documented (link USCIS). Cutting corners while applying for naturalization is risky and the penalty for doing so is harsh and the US government is very unforgiving as Balbir Singh alias Ranjit Singh discovered.
A person of Indian origin, Balbir Singh was recently convicted by US government for using fake identity to get US citizenship. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison, a maximum USD 250,000 possible fine, revocation of his citizenship and enforcement of his outstanding deportation order.
Here is the sequence of events as appearing in the media.
A few years ago, Mr. Singh was ordered deported but lied about it to seek citizenship.
Acting US Attorney Abe Martinez said Mr. Singh had previously attempted to obtain asylum under false pretenses.
When that asylum attempt failed, an immigration judge ordered his deportation from the United States, thus making him ineligible to ever become a naturalized US citizen.
Instead of leaving the country, Mr Singh changed his name, date of birth, the manner in which he entered the United States and his family history so that he could obtain lawful immigration status.
He later applied for Naturalization based on a marriage to a United States citizen. In his Naturalization application, Singh denied ever being ordered deported, seeking asylum or using a different identity.
After obtaining the citizenship, a fingerprint comparison established the man previously ordered deported from the United States (Balbir Singh) and the man who later became a naturalized citizen (Ranjit Singh) were one and the same.
US District Judge Ewing Werlein is scheduled to set sentencing for October 13.
Advice for NRIs and Indians abroad on returning to India
Here is a recent online query on Returning to India.
I am a software engineer from India and I have spent my last 15 years abroad in various countries. Which place in India is best for an NRI like me to settle down on returning to India with a decent job?
Response from our editor follows
This is a great question, but there is hardy any information on your interests, personal situation, career goals or intent.
If you were unconstrained and had the resources, wouldnt you want to settle in Andamans ?
or Himachal Pradesh?
India is a vast, ever-changing nation so it is really important to focus on these:
Interests and personal situation:
Are you extroverted and outgoing and want an urbane social circle?
Do you have an extended family living in a certain region? Do you plan to socialize frequently with your family?
Your interests and personal situation will guide you on the city/region where you want to ‘settle down.’ For example, if your extended family is in Imphal, Manipur, wouldn’t you be better off settling closer in Imphal, Assam or Kolkata? Same goes for your interests. If you love the ocean, wouldn’t you want to settle in Mumbai or Goa?
Do you specialize in a very niche area. E.g AI or Big-data tool?
Do you plan to enrich your career with a move to India?
I am not going to assume whether you are an AI, Big-data or HANA consultant since most metros will have opportunities for these. If you plan to settle in a major metro, this may be a non-issue. However, if you are looking at settling in tier-2 cities, you need to reflect on your career goals and re-skilling too.
Are you clear why you want to move back to India?
Are you prepared to accept the ways of life in a developing nation – traffic, pollution, regionalism etc?
Travel portal, TripAdvisor, polled more than 44,000 people across 25 countries during the survey conducted between January 16 and February 2. Of these, just over 32,158 were its own customers interviewed online. The others who participated in the survey were a mix of hoteliers and panellist from a market research company.
“Against the optimistic backdrop of the Indian economy, both travellers and hoteliers are expressing clear intentions that paint a positive picture for the Indian travel sector in 2015. Significantly, this optimism looks set to translate into a sharp spike in the number of Indians travelling abroad this year,” said Nikhil Ganju, country manager, TripAdvisor, India.
Of course, travel to foreign lands is fraught with uncertainty. Documentation and visa paperwork is just one factor to consider. However, having the right visas and travel permit is a major issue that Indians face while traveling overseas.
Take the example of the young lady from Mumbai, Khushbu Kaushal, who decided to visit and explore the East European country of Georgia (link) alone. Nothing wrong with that. Single women travelers are increasingly exploring the world alone. However, due to some paperwork issues, Ms. Kaushal was denied entry into Georgia and deported. It is unclear from her detailed facebook post what the issue was but what is appalling is her ordeal.
She begins herFacebook post with an appeal to the Georgian Ambassador to India.
Dear Mr. Archil Dzuliashvili (Georgian Ambassador to India) ,
I am a citizen of India, a single woman who earns her honest living working for an advertising agency. This year for my annual break I decided to visit your country Georgia. It rated pretty high for solo woman travellers and the general topography and the history of the country was attractive enough to seal my decision. My flight for Georgia took off from Mumbai on 29th June at 5am IST and I reached Tbilisi by 5pm Georgia time. I was carrying approved e-visa, letter from my employer stating I was on a holiday and will be joining back after my vacation, my bank statement to prove my financial stability, my hotel bookings to prove my stay in the country is legit and health and travel insurance in case anything happens to me while I am in your country.
The post went viral and was picked up my major Indian media outlets. From Indian media :
Here is a recent query from an online forum. The questioner adds
“I have no plans to work, or claim welfare of any kind. Simply buy a property and spend my days relaxing, shopping and so on.”
Our editor responds: Merely the intent to move to the US will not get you a visa. However, since you are a multi-millionaire, and have a million dollars to invest, you may be eligible for certain categories of immigrant visas. As a high-net-worth individual/entrepreneur, you qualify for several types of visas. You could apply for the following:
E-2 Treaty Investor (nonimmigrant visa) – According to the USCIS, one is eligible for an E-2 visa if you invest a substantial amount of money in a new or existing U.S. business. This is applicable for individuals from countries that have a treaty of commerce with the United States. This visa isn’t an immigrant visa, so it has an initial period of stay of 2 years. You can extend the visa in two-year increments.
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program (immigrant visa and green card) – Check out the detailed Q&A: What is Eb5 visa? EB5 is a popular program that some wealthy Chinese and Indians have been availing. After your attorney files the green card application, one should be prepared to do an interview and wait about six months before being granted the Visa
Q&A: What would be the impact under Indian laws for Indians, either residents or non-residents, getting citizenship in other countries?
Indian law does not prevent an individual from acquiring a foreign citizenship. However, after acquiring a foreign citizenship, an individual has to Renounce their Indian Citizenship (ref link: Consulate General of India )
“It is mandatory for all persons of Indian origin, who had ever held an Indian passport, to renounce their Indian citizenship upon acquiring any foreign nationality. This is a prerequisite to obtain Visas or OCI cards from the Consulate.”
Last week we heard of a “58-Year-Old Indian Man Detained At Atlanta Airport By US Immigration” who died in custody. The question of illegal and overstay of visas is extremely nebulous. The other question still remains unanswered: In an age of additional scrutiny by Trump government, Indians and others still have an urge to overstay the duration of their approved visas.
One of the tables from the report highlighting overstays.
A few facts about Indians highlighted in the report:
Of the 30,000, a little over 6,000 Indian nationals left the U.S. after the expiry of their visas, the report said.
In 2016, more than one million Indians who came to the U.S. on business, tourist or pleasure were expected to leave the country. Of these, 17,763 have overstayed in the country, it said.
Among the overstayed are 2,040 Indians who departed the U.S. only after the expiry of their visas.
This year’s report also includes visitors who entered on a student or exchange visitor visa (F, M, or J visa). Of the 1,457,556 students and exchange visitors scheduled to complete their program in the United States in FY16, 79,818 stayed beyond their authorized window for departure, resulting in a 5.48 percent overstay rate. Of the 79,818, 40,949 are suspected in-country overstays (2.81 percent).
In 2016, as many as 9,897 Indian students or exchange scholars were expected to depart by the end of the year and of which, 4,575 overstayed their legal period.
1,561 Indian students and exchange visitors left the country after their visas expired, while 3,014 of them have overstayed in the country, the report said.