September 27, 2013, Washington, D.C. – The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) sent a letter last Monday to Nirupama Rao, India’s ambassador to the United States, requesting clarification regarding the Indian government’s procedures for issuing visas to U.S. passport holders who were born in Iran. The letter is in response to information received concerning delays in visa applications experienced by some Iranian Americans seeking to travel to India.
During the past several weeks, PAAIA has been contacted by a number of Iranian American professionals from the San Francisco Bay Area. These people are professionals who work in the high-tech industry and are required to travel to India for business-related purposes. They have been informed by the Consulate General of India in San Francisco that there are new procedures for Iranian-born citizens of the United States, and that their applications may take as long as seven to nine months to process.
The United States is host to the largest expatriate community of Iranians in the world. Iranian Americans have contributed greatly to the economic strength of America, and are among the most educated and affluent ethnic groups in the U.S. Iranian Americans have founded and/or held senior leadership positions in many major US companies, including many telecommunication and high-tech companies such as AT&T, E-Bay, Google, Intel, and Motorola.
If accurate, the new visa procedures will adversely impact companies that are doing business in India. Additionally, such restrictions will penalize Iranian Americans as a group, placing them at a disadvantage relative to their non-Persian colleagues. This could lead to hiring disadvantages for prospective employees.
In light of these concerns, PAAIA has also been in contact with the Department of State and members of Congress from the San Francisco Bay area to seek their assistance in discussing this matter with the government of India.