Indian Premier Invites Obama to Attend Republic Day Celebration in New Delhi
Dec 23, 2014
Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) December 23, 2014 – Modi’s historic invitation of a U.S. president to a January event follows key visa reforms.
Republic Day celebrates the anniversary of the adoption of India’s constitution, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended President Obama an invitation to attend the event in New Delhi when he journeys to India in January. Obama quickly accepted Modi’s invitation and will meet with the premier and other Indian officials in the wake of his own historic initiatives on immigration reform.
Modi invited Obama via Twitter to attend the January 26 Republic Day parade as “Chief Guest,” an honor that has never been bestowed upon a U.S. president. The administration quickly accepted the request hours later in a White House release, stating, “The President will meet with the Prime Minister and Indian officials to strengthen and expand the US-India strategic partnership.”
Obama’s Republic Day meetings with Modi and other Indian officials will represent the second time he has met with Modi, who paid an official visit to the White House in September. But it will be the first meeting between the two leaders since Obama’s proactive, though politically controversial, executive order on immigration.
“The fact that Prime Minister Modi extended the invitation to President Obama in a posting on Twitter may be of symbolic importance,” said Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee. “The online beckoning to Obama to attend Republic Day is an appropriate reminder of the importance of technology to the United States and India, but Indian officials will also likely be very interested in discussing the president’s relevant immigration reforms as well as prospects for further reform in greater detail.”
The provisions of Obama’s executive order pertaining to visas are the reforms of interest to Indian officials, and to executives of U.S. companies with a high demand for workers skilled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Many of these STEM workers, as well as students who major in those fields, have come from India.
The president’s executive order streamlines the visa process, including measures that will relax the financial restrictions for entrepreneurs to enter the country under an E-B5 visa and allow for STEM students to stay longer under an F-1 visa to look for work. Obama also plans to make additional green cards available by recapturing unused ones from the past 20 years, and to offer guidance on L-1B visas, which permit companies to transfer employees from India to U.S. operations.
But regarding the matter of highly sought H-1B visas, which STEM-centric industries use to sponsor skilled foreign workers, the number of the visas granted per year will remain steady at 65,000, though visa holders will now be permitted to exercise portability from one firm to another.
“Many companies with an acute demand for workers skilled in STEM fields may very well see the president’s reforms on visas as a half-loaf offering at best,” Banerjee said. “From their perspective, congressional lifting of the ceiling on H-1B visas would represent the optimum solution to their needs.”
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