MEA Jaishankar discusses visa backlog with Blinken, visits US Chamber of Commerce in Washington



The Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar, during his US trip, took up the visa backlog issues with the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Jaishankar spoke about this with members of the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington soon after his meeting with Blinken on September 27.

Senior Vice President of the United States Chamber of Commerce Nisha Biswal and President of the US-India Business Council Ambassador (ret.) Atul Keshap hosted Jaishankar along with the Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Sandhu for lunch at the US Chamber of Commerce at its headquarters next to the White House in Washington on Tuesday afternoon, September 27, 2022.

During his interaction with corporate honchos and supporters, Jaishankar said that he has expressed concerns about the visa backlog issues, which he had discussed earlier in the day with Blinken. Additional key topics of discussion at the lunch hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce included the situation in the Indo-Pacific, geopolitical tensions, and the impact on the global economy, as well as the challenges on climate and energy policy.

Jaishankar said that he has told Blinken that visas are crucial to education, business, technology, and family reunions.  At a. joint press briefing after Blinken and Jaishankar met, the minister had said: “There have been some challenges of late, and I flagged it to Secretary Blinken and his team and I have every confidence that they will look at some of these problems seriously and positively.”

In reply to a question posed by a reporter, Blinken had said: “On the question of visas, I’m extremely sensitive to this.  If it’s any consolation, I can tell you that this is a challenge that we’re facing around the world, and it’s a product, largely, of the COVID pandemic.  Our ability to issue visas dropped dramatically during COVID.  When COVID hit, the demand for visas fell through the floor, visa fees went away, and the system as a whole suffered.  And then of course, in actually issuing visas, even with much more limited resources, we had constraints from COVID about the number of people we could have in our embassies at any one time, et cetera.”

“We are now building back very determinedly from that, surging resources.  We have a plan when it comes to India to address the backlog of visas that’s built up.  I think you’ll see that play out in the coming months, but it’s something that we’re very focused on. These connections, these people-to-people ties – whether it’s students, whether it’s business people, whether it’s tourists, whether it’s family – this is what really links us together.  And the last thing we want to do is make that any more difficult.  On the contrary, we want to facilitate it.  So, bear with us.  This will play out over the next few months, but we’re very focused on it,” Blinken added.

At the lunch, Jaishankar met with CEOs and senior industry executives representing Occidental, Lockheed Martin, Tata Sons, Blackstone, Morgan Stanley, Citi, Liberty Mutual, Google, Stripe, and Carlyle. The minister visited the chamber as part of a series of high-level engagements in Washington DC, which included meetings at the US Department of State, Pentagon, and with senior members of Congress.

The lunch discussions were informal, friendly, and wide-ranging: Jaishankar shared with the CEOs and executives his views on India’s prospects for economic growth, and as a hub for direct investment in manufacturing, digital economy, services, energy, and other key sectors. He also discussed India’s forthcoming presidency of the G20, the growing prominence of the Quad platform in the Indo-Pacific, and the central importance of US-India Business ties in steadying and strengthening bilateral relations between the two nations.

The United States Chamber of Commerce is the world’s premier business advocacy organization, representing millions of firms in America and around the world. Through its US-India Business Council, the Chamber brings together hundreds of leading American and Indian companies, who represent trillions in market value and millions of employees, to further the cause of strengthening US-India ties.