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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Frequently Asked Questions


Feb. 2, 2012


What is the “Passport to India” Initiative?

Citing the strategic importance of the U.S.-India relationship, President Barack Obama has called the U.S- India relationship one of the “defining partnerships of the 21st century.” Passport to India seeks to dramatically increase the number of American students with first-hand experience in India by expanding the menu of study abroad options to include internships. The initiative will promote business internships linked to student’s academic interest areas, summer scientific research internships and service learning internships in India. Promoting specific opportunities and funding sources for underrepresented students to participate in internships in India is a key focus. Passport to India interns will not only work on joint projects, they will also develop important connections that can result in future collaborations and benefits for both countries.

Demand for such programs is growing. Internships are becoming an integral part of the U.S. college experience and many colleges offer credit for them. At the same time, companies recognize the value of internships as a way to ensure a valuable stream of potential employees with the skills needed to make them competitive in the expanding global economy.

This effort complements successful existing study abroad and language study efforts by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

For more information, please visit the following website: http://www.state.gov/p/sca/ci/in/passport_to_india/index.htm

How is the “Passport to India” Initiative funded?

Passport to India relies fully on private sector philanthropic support. The Passport to India initiative works with foundations and businesses in two ways: by encouraging the funding of existing internship programs for American students in India that are seeking to expand, and by encouraging companies to commit to sponsoring American students for internships in their own India-based facilities. American, multinational and Indian companies are all welcome to sponsor American interns in India.

How can I become a part of the “Passport to India” Initiative?

Anyone can potentially be part of the “Passport to India” Initiative. There are a wide variety of existing internship programs for people who want to intern in India. Students should consult with their local schools, colleges, and universities about the range of opportunities that may be available and make sure to check our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pass2india) for examples of internship programs in India.

I am an Indian student. Can I participate in a “Passport to India” internship?

“Passport to India” was set up to increase the number of American students in India. There are a number of excellent internship and service learning opportunities in India for Indians including corporate-run programs, and service-learning programs such as Teach for India (www.teachforindia.org). Social entrepreneurship fellowships for young leaders from around the world include the Acumen Fellows (www.acumenfund.org/fellows) and Ashoka Fellows (www.ashoka.org/fellows) among others.

How can my organization or I contribute to the “Passport to India” Initiative?

There are many ways to contribute. If you are an individual, foundation or corporation that seeks to make a financial contribution, please indicate this in an email (passporttoindia@state.gov) and we will contact you directly.

If you are a student, parent, educator or other interested member of the public, please help us by working to promote the importance of study abroad in your community. Work with your local K-12 schools, colleges and universities to raise funds for them to expand study abroad opportunities for their students, particularly for programs in India.

What U.S. government programs exist to help me intern and study in India?

The U.S. government sponsors a number of successful programs to support students who want to study abroad, including in India. Following are some of the key programs that students who want to go to India should explore:

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program: The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers fellowships for graduating college seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to study or conduct research abroad for one academic year. Additional funding is available for critical language study.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: The Gilman Program provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduates with financial need for study abroad, including students from diverse backgrounds and students going to non-traditional study abroad destinations.

Critical Language Scholarship Program (CLS): The CLS Program provides fully-funded group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences for seven to ten weeks overseas. U.S. undergraduate, Master’s and doctoral students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply for one of thirteen critical languages.

National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y): NSLI-Y provides merit-based scholarships to American high school students and recent high school graduates to study seven critical languages overseas, including in India, through a combination of classroom instruction, service-learning opportunities, peer relationships and host family experiences.

Boren Scholarships: Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are funded by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), which focuses on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security.

Information about these and other U.S. government sponsored study abroad opportunities can be found on the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ website: http://exchanges.state.gov/.

Does the Indian government support more Americans studying in India?

Yes. Not only does the Indian government share our objective of strengthening people-to-people engagement through internships and educational exchange, but they have enthusiastically embraced the “Passport to India” Initiative. For more information about visa requirements for U.S. citizens visiting India, please contact the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C. http://www.indianembassy.org/

How can I find out more about other programs in India?

The Institute of International Education (IIE) maintains a database for undergraduate and graduate programs for study abroad http://www.iie.org/en/program-finder.

What are some good programs for students who have traditionally been underrepresented in study abroad?

In addition to the U.S.-government-sponsored programs listed above, below are some additional resources on study abroad for students who have traditionally been underrepresented in study abroad. These do not constitute U.S. Department of State or U.S. government endorsements.

Community College Students: The Center for Global Education and Leadership (CGACC) is an organization to help community college students who cannot take a full summer or semester away from home, work, or school. They can also help students explore the landscape of opportunities. Other community college umbrella organizations are also good sources of information.

HBCU Students: Interested students may wish to contact the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (www.thurgoodmarshallfund.net) for their listing of African American scholarship and financial aid opportunities; or the United Negro College Fund (www.uncf.org). Both are working to expand opportunities for minority students.

Latino/Hispanic Students: Interested students may wish to contact the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (www.hacu.net) to learn more about opportunities they are developing.

High School Students: Talk to your teacher, your principal, your parents, your district’s state superintendent – be proactive in finding opportunities. Your local Rotary International or 4-H Club may also offer funding opportunities.


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