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India cries foul as Mexico denies visa to NIIT official

NEW DELHI: Denial of Mexican visa to an NIIT executive has triggered off a diplomatic blizzard with the Indian government taking up the issue at various levels with Mexican authorities. The ministry of external affairs has taken severe offence since the visa tangle has resurfaced soon after Mexico agreed to provide travel permission to Indian businesses without referring each case to Mexico City.

It’s understood that NIIT wanted visa for an area manager, Rajiv Bansal, to visit Mexico. The visa application was accompanied by an invitation from NIIT’s centre in Mexico, a letter from the company and a recommendation from PHDCCI. Mr Bansal’s bank statement, income tax statements and an annual report of NIIT were also enclosed. Despite the detailed documentation, the Mexican embassy did not entertain the application. According to information available with the ministry of external affairs, the NIIT official was told that he should first obtain approval from the Ministry of Immigration in Mexico.

NIIT then brought the incident to the notice of officials in the external affairs ministry. Alarm bells started ringing soon afterwards as officials of the ministry got in touch with the Mexican embassy here and the Indian embassy in Mexico.
“If every visa application is to be referred to Mexico City, where is the need for a visa section at the Mexican embassy here,” is the question that is being asked by officials of the external affairs ministry. The move is in violation of the recent understanding between India and Mexico through which it was decided to scrap the need for such prior approvals. Moreover, NIIT has been shortlisted by one of the Mexican states for IT training and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) is on the cards. “If this can happen to NIIT which runs a training centre in Mexico, imagine the fate of other companies,” highly-placed government sources said.

The external affairs ministry has already lodged a protest and the response of the Me xican authorities awaited. The ministry has expressed its disappointment and is expecting corrective action, the sources added. On earlier occasions too, Mexican visas were denied in various cases, citing threat of illegal immigration to the US. Now, the US government is issuing 10-year multiple-entry visas to bonafide Indian business travellers. Following a series of complaints, the Mexican government had recalled a visa officer in the past, but the problem has resurfaced, the sources said.

The move would only spoil business relations between the two countries, the sources felt. Last year, India imported $500m worth of goods from Mexico, while exports to the Latin American country stood at $870m. It is estimated that exports to Mexico will cross the $1-bn mark during the current year.

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