Indian Embassy in US to hold open house on visa-related issues

Washington:The Indian Embassy here and its five consulates in the US will hold an open house every fortnight starting from January to address the grievances of people on issues related to visa, passport and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card.

“I would like to announce an initiative today. We would institute from the first week of January next year an open house in the Indian Embassy,” Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna, said yesterday at a reception held in his honour by top Indian-American community organisations of greater Washington DC area.

Addressing several hundred Indian-Americans from in and around Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia, Sarna said “the Open House would be held every fortnight wherein people with their grievances related to passports, visas and OCI cards can simply walk in and the senior embassy officials would address them.”

“We would put out on the website once a fortnight, a designated day and a time where somebody who may have put in his papers and is not getting a response; somebody who actually have a particular problem which he wants to come and discuss with some body at the Embassy; somebody who is facing a problem in communication; somebody who does not have a paper for OCI, but still wants to have it; they would be able to come and we will have the our senior officers and the nodal officers will meet them and attend to their problem,” he said.

“We will also institute a similar arrangement in all our consulates in the United States,” the Indian Ambassador said.

His announcement was welcomed by the community leaders present at the reception, who also felicitated the outgoing Deputy Indian Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu, who now heads to Colombo as the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka.

In his second stint to the Indian Embassy in Washington DC, Sarna acknowledged that problem persists despite best of the efforts and improvement in the system.

“I know one place where we always go wrong is passport, visa, OCI. No matter, how, where we do, we outsource it, we monitor it and this is the nature of the beast, nobody’s fault… no matter how efficient the machinery is this is ultimately a human error… there will always be a problem when you rang and nobody picked up the phone,” he said.

“When you actually send the passport and for some reason they are stuck in the post, where you actually wanted to use the electronic visa system, and they did not accept your card.

“These happens, because these are new systems. These are being put through the teething problems. They need to be improved upon. In a couple of years, I can assure you will laugh at these problems,” he said.

In his remarks, Sandhu highlighted the role of the Indian American community in strengthening India US relationship.

Among other things, he stressed on the need to involve second generation Indian Americans in community activities and strengthening India US ties.

PTI

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