Consular Update: India
An attorney from our affiliate, Murthy Immigration Services, Pvt. Ltd. in Chennai, India, attended an April 8, 2009 informational session with top officials from the U.S. Consulate in Chennai. Mr. Bryan Dalton (Chief, Consular Services, Chennai) and Mr. Ian Hopper (Deputy Chief, NIV Section, Chennai) provided updates and responded to questions. This updated information on Security Advisory Opinions (SAOs), the treatment of visa applications for employees of consulting companies, and the recently operational U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad, India, is provided for the many MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers who use the U.S. consulates in India.
Expanding Services in Hyderabad
The U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad, India began accepting visa appointments in March 2009. This was reported in our March 4, 2009 article, Visa Appointments Available at U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad as of March 5, 2009, available on MurthyDotCom. Since its opening, the Consulate has expanded services considerably, although it continues to be limited to nonimmigrant visa (NIV) or temporary categories. It currently is processing 300 to 400 nonimmigrant visa applications per day, in all nonimmigrant categories. The intent is to increase this number to 500 nonimmigrant visa applications per day.
Security Advisory Opinions Delay Visa Issuance
Individuals who require security advisory opinions (SAOs) are experiencing greatly extended delays in visa processing and issuance. This is a problem often faced by people who are highly educated, many of them PhDs, with expertise that is needed in scientific and technical fields. Thus, these delays can impact universities, research institutions, and private industry in the United States, where such individuals typically work. When asked about these delays, it was explained that the clearances are not within the control of the consulate, although it is aware of the problem.
Consulting Companies Require Additional Documentation
Many MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers are aware of the difficulties faced by employees of IT consulting firms who apply for H1B visas at U.S. consulates. The U.S. Consulate in Chennai is considered the largest H1B processing post in the world, based on the volume of cases processed. Suggestions included having the employer or petitioner do independent verifications (background checks) to make sure that the degree certificates and employment verification letters are genuine. It was also mentioned that, if a company is claiming that the individual will be working on internal company projects rather than on contracted projects, the company must provide legitimate documentation. There have been ongoing instances of submissions of projects that are simply pulled from the internet.
The Chennai consular officials confirmed that they will accept client letters for current projects, as long as they are genuine. The applicant should be prepared to submit all documents required to establish that the case is genuine at the time of the interview. There is a separate counter for submitting these documents at the interview, rather than having to obtain them later and submit them through VFS.
This information from Attorney Senthil Kumar of Murthy Immigration Services, Pvt. Ltd. in India, provided by Mr. Dalton and Mr. Hopper, is appreciated by our readers. We at the Murthy Law Firm are pleased that the U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad has continued to expand the visa services offered there, as that location is more convenient to many of our clients. Consulting companies should carefully note the underlying issue of false documentation in the suggestions provided. It is unfortunate that consulting companies are all being painted with the same brush of fraud, but those in the IT consulting business need to be extremely careful with regard to any case presented at any consulate, and need to make sure it is beyond question.