Meeting at U.S. Consulate, Chennai, India in October 200723 Oct 2007
On my recent trip to India, I had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to meet with various key consular officers at the U.S. Consulate in Chennai, India. The meeting was on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 9, 2007 (local time) at the Consulate. The meeting was with the Chief of the Consular Section, Mark Fry, and with Peter Hancon, the Chief of the Nonimmigrant Visa Section, both of whom had met with me on more than one occasion previously. This time, I was introduced to a new officer in Chennai, John Ballard, the Country Coordinator of the Fraud Prevention Programs. Mr. Ballard has had a highly accomplished career and has been assigned this important task of heading up the Fraud Prevention Unit in India for all the consulates based on his stellar work record. The Consular team went over some issues at the consulate and I was able to discuss a couple of cases for specific individuals who had engaged the Murthy Law Firm. There has been no major policy or procedural change since we last updated MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin.
Mark Fry was extremely generous with his time and led us around the Consulate to show us the various changes that recently have been made there, including many new stations / windows for more officers to interview candidates, more waiting area space, and other structural changes. It is impressive to note that, during fiscal year 2007 (Oct 1, 2006 through Sep 30, 2007), the Consular section at Chennai processed almost 300,000 nonimmigrant visas with comparatively limited staff and resources. Obviously, the demands on the consular officer to make a decision within a very short time span adds pressure to all concerned, whether the visa applicant or the interviewing officer. That is why it is critical to submit only the necessary documents in a simple and easy-to-read format, so that a prompt and favorable decision can be rendered in any visa case. Mr. Fry mentioned that the scheduled opening of the new Consulate in Hyderabad, India, in 2008 is still in place, but the construction work with all the security requirements have not yet been completed, so there may be some delay in its opening.
Overall, it was a positive meeting that provided an opportunity for us to liaise with and meet key consular officers. It is only at such meetings that we can track any changes at one of the busiest H1B-processing consulates in the world at Chennai, India, and report on these to you, our valued readers.