More jobs for both Indians and Americans, energy security, women entrepreneurship and greater bilateral ties between the two countries were some of the issues before the US Ambassador to India, Nancy J Powell.

Announcing visa interview waiver for four categories of work visa including H1-B and L1-B, she told the members of the Indian Women’s Press Corp that ideal situation would be more jobs for both the US and India.

A diplomat who is also a Libran she was true to her character, doing a balancing act while fielding questions. Gentle but firm she said that the second stint of Obama Government, while bringing in continuity, would also reflect some changes.

Tactfully, pre-empting any questions on visa, she said taking forward the Interview Waiver Program (IWP) launched in March, it has been decided to expand it to four more categories now.

The following Indian applicants may also be considered for streamlined processing: children applying before their 14th birthday travelling on any visa class, students returning to attend the same school and same program, temporary workers on H1-B visas, and temporary workers on Individual L1-A or Individual L1-B visas.

The renewal application must be within the same classification as the previous visa. If the previous visa is annotated with the words “clearance received,” that applicant is not eligible for a waiver of a personal interview, a US Embassy statement said.

Not all applications will be accepted for streamlined processing, the statement further said adding that “As always, consular officers may interview any visa applicant in any category. Applicants who are renewing their visas may still need to make an appointment for biometrics (fingerprint and photograph) collection, and all applicants must submit all required fees and the DS-160 application form.”

N-deal

On a question regarding the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement, Powell said that there were some issues which need to be sorted out. Powell said that India is yet to join some international agreements on trade in nuclear technology.

A high-level team from the US will be in India to discuss on the issue soon. Powell hoped for an early resolution of all the contentious issues on the subject. The private US companies were not comfortable with the way the current legislation imposed liability in the case of accidents.

As regards to the free trade agreement (FTA) with India to allow export of shale gas from the US, she said that at present a study is being undertaken by the US Government on how much shale gas the country has, what is the gas demand, and the benefit and costs involved if exports were allowed. “By end of the year a clearer picture should emerge,” she said adding that Indian companies will have to wait for the report before any deliberations on trade begins.

At present only one project that of Indian company GAIL (India) for gas exports has been allowed. There are other two projects which are pending approvals, and their fate is dependent on the outcome of the study.

(This article was published on November 19, 2012)
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