Mumbai: The United States proposes to further increase the number of visas issued to Indian students to stem the decrease in the percentage of Indian students going to America for higher studies.
The US has planned to increase the number of visas issued to Indian students wanting to go for higher studies and also speed up the visa issuance process, Karen P Hughes, US under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, said.
"We are very much committed to assuring every Indian student admitted to a legitimate institution of higher education in the US that he or she will be granted visa on time," he said.
"We have increased the number of visas for Indian students and we want to further increase the number," Hughes said.
Hughes, heading a delegation of six US university presidents, is on a week-long visit to India in an effort to expand educational partnerships with the country.
The delegation called on human resource development minister Arjun Singh to discuss two-way students exchange programmes with India.
"We discussed a variety of ideas like faculty exchange programme, student exchange programme and joint degree programme," deputy assistant secretary of state, bureau of educational and cultural affairs, Thomas A Farrell, said after the meeting.
He acknowledge that the visa hurdle is disadvantaging US universities in attracting top-grade students from countries like India and the US government is addressing this issue in right earnest.
In fact, the US issued visas to 24,600 Indian students in 2006, registering a 32 per cent increase over the previous year, a senior US official said.
"The security measures taken by the US government (post 9/11) are in no way inhibiting the students from India and we see a very significant growth from India in people visiting the US," said US consul general in Kolkata, Henry V. Jardine.
"Student visas are issued within two days of application in Kolkata while it takes two weeks for cases requiring further inquiry," Jardine said.
US officials said they expect the student visa issuance and applications to go up by at least 20 per cent in 2007.
He said in 2006, 370,000 visas were issued in China but India was catching up with fast.
The US has consulates in Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai and would have a fourth one in Hyderabad by year-end.