SN - High vigil at US visa counters
High vigil at US visa counters
Sify News Thursday, 13 March , 2008, 16:45Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March , 2008, 17:59
Chennai: In the wake of the visa fraud by a few South Indian film artists, the United States Consulate in Chennai and other US visa offices in India have stepped up vigilance.
“We have increased the technological and personnel resources that we devote towards detecting and investigating fraud and applicants should know that if they attempt fraud, the chances that they will be caught are increasing,” said US consular general David Hopper addressing a group of press people at the consulate in Chennai on Thursday.
Refusing to reveal the identity of the people named in the US visa fraud case, Hopper said the applicant presented a false story that he was a producer who wished to accompany the known actor to the US to scout film locations there. The consular officer who performed the interview had questions about the documents presented, and the officer referred the applicant for in-depth questioning, at which time the applicant confessed to the fraud.
Also Read: Hopper’s tips on how to apply for US Visa
The American consulate on Wednesday announced the possibility of imposing a ‘lifetime ban on traveling to US’ of nearly 200 South Indian film artists, including actors and directors for using their positions to lend credibility to “a second unqualified applicant.”
“The film figures, even though they themselves may actually have qualified for visas and did not intend to live or work illegally in the US, are equally guilty as the others. They perpetrated fraud and assisted in people smuggling,” Hopper said.
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The visa fraud scheme unveiled earlier this week found cases as early as May 2007 when a visa applicant admitted to paying Rs 5,00,000 to a consultant for false documentation and for a known, genuine film industry figure to apply for a visa along with him. Though a few of them had managed to get visas, the documents of those who are in India have been revoked.
The Consul General reiterated that the Consulate’s action against this visa fraud scheme was not a condemnation of the South Indian film industry and that they welcome the increasing technical and artistic collaboration between Indian filmmakers and their counterparts in the US.