On June 22, a senior White House official confirmed that the United States plans to open two new consulates in India at Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. As per the reports, India will also establish another mission in India at Seattle to help boost the relationships between the two countries.
The official stated, “The United States intends to open new consulates in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. India is likewise welcoming the 2023 opening of its consulate in Seattle and look forward to also announcing a new consulate in the United States”.
Besides an embassy in Washington in the United States, India has five consulates in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta. The difference between an embassy and a consulate is that the embassy serves as the primary diplomatic mission, while consulates are small diplomatic missions within the foreign nation.
While the United States has its embassy in New Delhi, which is also one of the largest US diplomatic missions in the world, apart from New Delhi, the US have four consulates in Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad, making sure the US- India relationship goes strong.
According to a senior US administration official, the country made a record by issuing 125,000 visas to Indian students last year. In the United States, Indian students are becoming the most prominent foreign student community. Last year alone, the intake of Indian students in the US increased by 20 per cent.
The official stated that later this year, the US Department of State would start a pilot program to decide domestic renewals of a select group of petition-based temporary work visas, including those for Indian nationals, to expand the pool when the pilot concludes. It would allow Indians on H1-B visas to renew them in the US without travelling to other nations.
The development comes amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official state visit to the US.
Recently, to help some skilled workers enter or remain in the United States, the Joe Biden administration will make it easier for Indians to live and work there, Reuters reported citing three people familiar with the matter.
By far, a large percentage of H-1B visa holders and applicants hail from India. Indian citizens comprised 73 per cent of the nearly 4,42,000 H1-B workers in the fiscal year 2022. Another US official said that the mobility of the people is considered a “huge asset” to the US.
A US State Department spokesperson did not reveal the visa types that would qualify or the timing of the pilot launch. The spokesperson said that the pilot would start with a small number of cases, intending to scale the initiative in the following one or two years, Reuters reported.
Each year, the US Government makes 65,000 H1-B visas available to companies that intend to have skilled foreign workers and an additional 20,000 visas for workers with advanced degrees, Reuters reported. The visa for the workers remains valid for three years and can be renewed for another three years.
The decision to allow some of the temporary foreign workers to renew their visas in the US will free up resources for visa interviews in consulates in other nations, Reuters reported citing the sources. The report said the pilot program would include some workers with L-1 visas.
The United States took these decisions during the state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On June 21, US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden welcomed PM Modi at the White House. The camaraderie between leaders was visible as they laughed and engaged in conversation during the warm welcome.
According to the White House, the first couple gifted PM Modi a vintage American camera, accompanied by an archival facsimile print of George Eastman’s Patent of the first Kodak camera, a hardcover book on American wildlife photography, and a signed, first edition copy of ‘Collected Poems of Robert Frost’.
Meanwhile, PM Modi presented the US President with a copy of the first edition print of ‘The Ten Principal Upanishads’ and a special Mysore sandalwood box. The box contains the idol of Bhagwan Ganesha and a Diya (oil lamp). He also gifted First Lady Jill Biden a 7.5-carat lab-grown green diamond and a Papier mache – a box known as kar-e-kalamdani.