US Ambassador Richard Verma Says No Plans To Open Consulate In Chandigarh, Punjab

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US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said the US was trying to make the visa issuance process as fair and professional as it could be. “I spend quite a lot of time with our consular team (responsible for issuing visas) because this is our biggest priority,” he said

CHANDIGARH – The US has no immediate plans to open a consulate in Chandigarh or Punjab to obviate the need for visa applicants to travel all the way to Delhi. However, the US is trying to make the visa issuance process as fair and professional as it can be, said US Ambassador to India Richard Verma.

“I spend quite a lot of time with our consular team (responsible for issuing visas) because this is our biggest priority,” Verma told the Tribune newspaper during a visit to Punjab and Chandigarh. He hoped the documents processing centres at Jalandhar and Chandigarh were of some help to visa applicants, though he conceded the inconvenience due to the absence of a US outpost in this part of the country.

Though the desire for a US consulate will remain unmet in the future, the embassy in Delhi was issuing more visas than ever before. As many as 12 lakh visas were issued last year as compared to 4 lakh a decade ago. The UK and Canada have consulates in Chandigarh, while Australia has a document processing centre.

With roots in Jalandhar where he spent time in the 70s, Verma plans to travel to Amritsar with his father and sister whose travel plans were derailed by freak weather in Chandigarh. Verma had visited Jalandhar in May this year to revisit some of his old haunts.

Responding to reports of glitches in some hi-tech American military hardware, he maintained that generally the US servicing track record was considered the best in the world. On the proposed bilateral trade treaty hanging fire even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama have resolved to increase Indo-US trade by five times in the next three years, the Ambassador said both sides were still negotiating an agreeable model. “If we sit down and start a meaningful negotiation, it would be helpful,” Verma said, adding that some progress had already been made at the state level.

Stressing that the treaty was a major tool to enhance economic cooperation, he hoped its signing would generate investor confidence on both sides and give certainty for dispute redressal.