Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first-ever in-person meeting with President Joe Biden raised a number of issues involving the Indian community in America, including access for Indian professionals in the US and speaking about the H-1B visas, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said.
Prime Minister Modi described as "outstanding" his first bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with US President Joe Biden who said the Indo-US relationship is destined to be "stronger, closer and tighter".
The prime minister and his counterparts - Scott Morrison of Australia and Japan's Yoshihide Suga – also attended the meeting of Quad leaders hosted by US President Biden in the US capital on Friday.
"He (Modi) spoke of the issue of getting access for Indian professionals to the United States. In that context he mentioned H-1B visa," Shringla told reporters at a news conference on Friday.
The most sought-after H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
"He also spoke of the fact that many Indian professionals who work here contribute to Social Security. The return of those contributions in the United States is something that affects the number of Indian workers," Shringla said.
A fact sheet issued by the White House later said that the United States was proud to have issued a record 62,000 visas to Indian students so far in 2021. The nearly 200,000 Indian students in the United States contribute USD 7.7 billion annually to the US economy.
Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Programme worldwide, the programme has been bringing Americans and Indians closer together for 71 years since its launch in India.
"In 2008, we welcomed India's decision to jointly fund these fellowships with the United States, and renamed the program the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship Program. Over 20,000 fellowships and grants have been awarded under this exchange programme, and the United States looks forward to building on these successes," it said.
"The Partnership 2020 programme continues to foster higher education cooperation to promote economic growth and technological advances. In collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Omaha, this programme funds 15 research partnerships between US and Indian universities in the fields of advanced engineering, artificial intelligence, public health, and energy, among others," the White House said.
According to the White House, the upcoming launch of the US-India Alliance for Women's Economic Empowerment—a public-private partnership between the Department of State, USAID, the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, and George Washington University—will help catalyse collaboration to advance women's economic resilience and empowerment in India.
The US-funded Nexus startup and innovation hub showcases the best of American and Indian entrepreneurial innovation and technology commercialisation. Nexus serves as a central hub for entrepreneurs, innovators, faculty, industry players, and funding organisations interested in promoting Indian startups and the local entrepreneurial ecosystem," it said.
Since 2016, Nexus's 138 graduates have raised over USD 19 million in outside funding and closed over 70 deals with many prominent Indian and US companies, it said.
"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration works closely with Indian counterparts in areas such as ocean and fisheries science, meteorology, and earth observation, which helps us better understand climate change and save lives through improved weather modeling and information sharing," the White House said.
The US Department of Agriculture looks forward to cooperating with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research on climate-change issues related to agriculture through strategic research on crops, livestock, and fisheries, it said.
USAID looks forward to working with the Indian government on establishing the US-India Gandhi-King Development Foundation to promote initiatives and exchanges that honor both visionary leaders, it added.