Debating India
Home page > Public directory > Opinions, medias & society > Want H1B visa? Come to Gujarat


Want H1B visa? Come to Gujarat

Times News Network

Saturday 16 August 2003

Article paru dans le Times of India, ?dition du 16 ao?t 2003.

AHMEDABAD: An H1B visa without a job in the US! Sounds incredible? Not if you are in Gujarat, ready to take the risk and pay an astronomical sum to be on a foreign shore.

Taking wings was perhaps never so easy before as a swarm of "consultants" out there are providing a populace hung up on immigrating a ticket to their El Dorado. As New York and London beckon, the murky world of fake passports and forged visas, false marriages and deals in lakhs, attract the youth.

For this consultant sitting in his posh office on Gurukul Cross-roads, checks imposed by US immigration authorities matter little. "Entry is extremely difficult now. But, one may go on an H1B visa," he says. But, an H1B visa without an offer letter? Leave it to this "cool guy". For, he has worked out his plan well. "We have tie-ups with some companies in California and New York who would issue an offer letter at a commission. Once the client reaches the US, he is on his own. While the company will put him on stand-by to fox authorities, he will be free to search for a job. Once he finds one, the company will give him a no objection certificate," he explains. The "operation" would cost Rs 4.5 lakh, this correspondent is told.

In the prosperous tobacco-growing area of Anand and Kheda, known as the Charotar, where settling in the US or the UK is the stuff dreams are made of, a "mysterious lady" leads the charge, arranging for visa, getting passports.

"Here we form groups of six to seven people who wish to immigrate. Alkaben then takes the groups to Mumbai where she has her "contacts"."She has never failed," says one Hiteshbhai. And, marriages among relatives are providing the people of Anand a cover to settle in the US as "fake" marital vows are opening up new avenues to get a visa. So, when 24-year-old Ramesh "married" his niece Pinky, 19, nobody raised an eyebrow. "Pinky is a Green Card holder and she just helped Ramesh realise a dream after he was denied visa twice. They later filed for a divorce," says Ramesh’s grandfather Jayanti Patel.

The clandestine marriage was held in a village temple with the pundit being called from Rajkot and photographs developed in a studio in Ahmedabad. In Mehsana in north Gujarat, "business" is flourishing as passports fetch as much as Rs 25 lakh and anyone ready to lend a school leaving certificate to people from a particular community can get rich overnight. "People from a community here have become so marked for taking help of illegal means to immigrate that they pay a fortune to get a certificate from a person with the same name but from another community. The rate can go as high as Rs 20 lakh," informs an agent in Mehsana.

"The humshakal (lookalike) business is on the high too. If your lookalike has a passport with multiple entry, buy it from him and ask him to file an FIR. Such lookalikes may earn upto Rs 25 lakh," he informs. "These documents are prepared in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Delhi for anything between Rs 20 and Rs 25 lakh. Called the photo-cut technique, the photograph of the passport-holder is replaced with that of our client," says an Ahmedabad-based consultant Dhirubhai Shah.

And, failure leaves them undaunted. For Mahesh Patel of Mehsana, losing Rs 12 lakh to an agent may have come as a shock but he is determined to carry on. Ferrying passengers in his jeep between Nandasan and Kadi, he wants to make up the loss in two years. For, his dream — of a life in a foreign land — never dies.


(With inputs from Tina Parekh in Ahmedabad, Kiran Mathur in Mehsana and Prashant Rupera in Anand)

SPIP | template | | Site Map | Follow-up of the site's activity RSS 2.0