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Indonesia: Free visas to attract Indians

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New Delhi: Indonesia decided to grant free visas to Indians to attract more travelers from India which is a “big market” for them.

Vinsensius Jemadu, Indonesia’s tourism director, was in India to promote Indonesian tourism and attract more Indians. He says Indonesia and India enjoy very good relations which will help in attracting more tourists. Indonesia is also participating in the South Asian Tourism and Travel Expo (SATTE) 2016.

Jemadu said that more than 10 million people from across the globe visit Indonesia every year but only 270,000 from India. The country attracts the highest number of tourists from Singapore, followed by Malaysia, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and then India.

“Realising that India is a big market, the Indonesian government decided to grant free visas to Indians. We have set a target to attract 350,000 tourists from India this year, which is a big challenge for us,” he said. “Most of the people from India visit Bali. Maybe it is because they do not know about other places there. We want them to explore other places of the country as well,” he said.

Indonesia’s tourism industry contributes nine percent to the country’s GDP. “Our plans are to boost tourism industry and increase it to 15 percent of the GDP by the end of 2019.”

“As many as 60 percent of the total tourists visit Indonesia because of its rich cultural heritage while 35 percent come to the country to see its natural beauty. Five percent tourists come here to enjoy manmade activities,” Jemadu said.

Expressing concern over the lack of direct connectivity between India and Indonesia, Jemadu said: “So far there is no direct flight between the two countries. People from India reach Indonesia via Singapore or Malaysia which is not good for tourism because people have to spend more time and money in travelling.”

He, however, added that this issue will be sorted out soon as both the governments have agreed to start the direct flight between the two nations.

“I am hopeful that the direct flight between Mumbai and Bali will start by March or April. Garuda Indonesian airline had agreed to operate flights between the two countries,” he said.(IANS)

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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

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It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

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President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)

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