Is there a shift in India ?

With the announcement  two weeks ago of the availabilty for certain H and L holders to have their visas re-stamped without an interview, many of us are hopeful that there has been a shift by the U.S. Consulates in India regarding the treatment of professionals working in the U.S. The last several years have seen a tremendous and unquestioned abuse of power by the US Consulates in India (and to a lesser extent in Manila) in the handling of H and L visa applicants. The U.S. Consulates have shown a propensity to re-adjudicate petitions and substitute their judgement for those of USCIS officials without any statutory or regulatory basis.  Unfortunately, their interpretation of USCIS and DOL regulations, of which they have never been trained, left a lot to be desired. Whether their backlash against H and L holders was simply a reaction to the recession and high rate of unemployment or whether it was the result of a directive from the current Administration is open to conjecture. Nonetheless,  221g notices became the bane of visa applicants and U.S. employers. Often these requests called for documentation and information that was wholly irrelevant and to many, simply designed to harass and discourage visa applicants. Among the requests that we often saw, sought records of all of the employees of a U.S. company including personal information, job titles, job descriptions, salaries, etc. Even when a U.S. employer was able to provide the information requested, the U.S. Consulates often took 6 months or more to review the additional information. A visa delayed is a visa denied. We recognize that the U.S. Consulates have a tough job but, in this blogger’s humble opinion, their job would be much easier if they focused on doing their job and stopped trying to do the job of the DOL and USCIS. Let’s hope this new policy is but the first step in a return to the fair and legal treatment of H and L visa applicants in India.

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