NEW DELHI: India on Friday took up the problems faced by tens of thousands of students in obtaining visas with senior diplomats of countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany and the US and sought the fast-tracking of the visa process.
Senior officials of the external affairs ministry dealing with Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, New Zealand, Poland, the UK and the US had “constructive discussions” with the heads of missions and senior diplomats of these countries about “streamlining student visas to Indian nationals”, external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.
The diplomats “agreed to remain engaged on further easing [and] fast-tracking the process since the flow of students has been mutually beneficial”, he said in another tweet.
People familiar with the matter said the ministry decided to formally take up the matter following numerous complaints from students who were seeking visas either to return to educational institutions abroad following the easing of Covid-19-related travel restrictions or to join new courses beginning in a few months.
The officials of the external affairs ministry strongly raised these issues with the foreign diplomats and requested predictability in the process of issuing visas, the people said.
The officials also called for fast-tracking of the process for issuing visas and an effective communications strategy whereby these countries could inform students about the latest developments, the people added.
The Indian side also emphasised that such steps will help bilateral relations, the people said.
Though no official figures were immediately available for the number of students who were facing problems with visas, the people said the figure was easily in tens of thousands.
The private firms processing visa applications for most Western nations have been deluged with applications in recent weeks, especially after the easing of travel restrictions for tourists and other categories of travellers. Wait periods of several months are common for visa applications in the case of several Western countries.
The people also noted that similar issues faced by Indian students wishing to return to Chinese educational institutions had already been flagged to the Chinese side, including by external affairs minister S Jaishankar.