Continuing to maintain silence on granting a visa to BJP leader Narendra Modi, US has said the heads of state and government are eligible for A1 visas and no individual automatically qualifies for an American visa.
“Heads of state and heads of government are eligible for A1 visa classification under the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act). No individual automatically qualifies for a US visa,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters yesterday.
“US law exempts foreign government officials, including heads of state and heads of government from certain potential inadmissibility grounds,” Psaki said when asked about the possibility of issuing visa to Modi, whose party-led NDA is projected by exit polls to form the next government in India.
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Refusing to go into details, Psaki refrained from responding to direct questions on Modi visa issue, except for saying that the US looks forward to working with new Indian government.
“We don’t talk about visa applications. We are looking forward to working with the new Indian government when they are elected. But I am not going to speculate on that given, obviously, the results haven’t been announced yet,” she said.
The results of the 16th general elections of India are scheduled to be announced on May 16. In 2005, the US State Department had revoked a visa that Modi had for travelling to the US on the ground of alleged human rights violations after the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The US has repeatedly said there is no change in its long-standing visa policy relating to Modi but he is free to apply for a visa and await a review like any other applicant. Last year, Modi’s plans to address by video a University of Pennsylvania conference were scrapped following opposition from Indian-American professors, alumni and students.
However, in a sudden u-turn in February, the US signalled the end of its boycott of Modi when its ambassador to India Nancy Powell met him in Ahmedabad.
US Officials have since said whoever is elected India’s next leader would be welcome to the US.