NEW DELHI: The US has said that it will try and mitigate the impact of new visa rules that discourage international students – a large proportion of whom are Indians -- to stay back in the US and continue their ongoing courses via online classes due to covid-19 disruptions.
Mint has learnt that the matter came up for discussion during foreign office consultations between India and the US on Tuesday. The online meeting took place between Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale.
During the meeting, the US side took note of Indian concerns on the matter. The US also conveyed that it will keep the best interests of the students in mind, Mint has learnt.
Detailed implementation guidelines on the visa rule changes are yet to be publicly notified but it has triggered widespread concern among parents and their wards studying in the US. India and China comprise a lion share of foreign students in the US. While US is home to some 202,000 Indian students, there are almost 369,000 Chinese students pursuing education in the US institutions, according to US government data.
An Indian foreign ministry statement said India and the US “discussed ways to further enhance mutually beneficial trade and people-to-people ties, including through visa facilitation for students and professionals."
The two countries also reaffirmed their commitment to work for a “free, open, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region," the statement said.
On the covid-19 pandemic and its impact, the Indian statement said “the two sides agreed to further strengthen the bilateral health partnership, including on pharmaceuticals and vaccine development."
The US statement said that both officials “discussed US-India cooperation on a full range of international issues and developed concrete steps to strengthen the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership established by their leaders."
Ongoing threats to the rules-based international order, bilateral and multilateral diplomatic cooperation, maritime security and the global response to the covid-19 pandemic were some of the other issues discussed, the US statement said.
“Under Secretary Hale and Foreign Secretary Shringla agreed to consult closely on all challenges and endeavour to support each other’s objectives," the US statement added.