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June 6, 2002 | 1149 IST
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Reduced visa services not to affect IT pros, students

Jyotika J Thukral & Bipin Chandran

The reduction in visa services by countries like the UK and Australia is unlikely to affect the software professionals planning to work in these countries and students planning to go for studies.

To begin with, the US embassy in India has not curtailed its visa services in the country. The US is the most preferred destination for Indian IT professionals as well as students.

The country accounts for almost 80 per cent of all Indian IT professionals working abroad. Last year, almost 70 per cent of the 75,000-odd Indian students going abroad, went to the US. A US embassy spokesperson told Business Standard that there had been no curtailment in the number of visas being issued, in spite of the reduction in the number of staff.

The National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) feels that reduction in visa services will not have any impact on the Indian software sector. "I do not see work permits being denied to software professionals by any of these countries. We think this is going to be a short-time phenomenon," Nasscom president Kiran Karnik said.

V Srinivasan, managing director and CEO of ICICI Infotech, said: "We are yet to know about any work permit denials for software professionals from any of these countries. Whatever curbs they have put in place are not for software professionals."

As far as students are concerned, academic session in the US and the UK does not start before September, and students can apply for visas till then.

Most observers think that the current Indo-Pak tension will cool off by then and embassies will resume their normal visa services.

At the same time, the processing of visa applications for studies in countries like New Zealand and Australia began much earlier and most of the applications were disposed off by the time the current crisis hit.

Moreover, the British High Commission has informed that its complete visa services were still available for residents of Kolkata and Chennai.

The Australian High Commission said, though it had shut its Mumbai office and its visa office in New Delhi would offer only limited services, applications for student, temporary resident and migration visas would still be accepted.

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