Amid persisting concerns in India over the US suspension of the fast-tracking of H1B visa, India has made it clear that this is purely a business issue which should not be allowed to jeopardise huge opportunities in consolidating Indo-US economic partnership. India has also highlighted the US’ recognition of the contribution of the Indian IT professionals towards making the US economy competitive.
Clarifying India’s position, the external affairs ministry’s spokesman Gopal Bagley told the media in New Delhi on March 9 that “the presence of skilled Indian professionals is a positive for the US economy and particularly when the US seeks to build a stronger economy.”
“There are advantages in terms of backward linkages…..When we combine all this with our own government’s efforts for economic reforms and a high sustained economic growth, there is obviously a very important opportunity here for both countries to consolidate their economic partnership,” he said in response to a question.
The issue was taken up by India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar when he held talks with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Washington last week and flagged New Delhi’s concerns. A few days later, however, the US announced the suspension of the premium processing of H 1B visa, in keeping with the Trump administration’s stand that its priority was ban on immigrants and not the visa.
Mr Bagley stressed that there was a “very wide-ranging recognition” of the opportunity for India and the US in economic cooperation through H1B visa during the talks in Washington last week.
“There was a wide ranging and strong recognition as well as respect for Indian skills and contribution of the Indian technological manpower to the US economy. It was widely agreed that the presence of Indian technical professionals had made and continues to make the United States more competitive and it is actually helping its economy,” he said.
According to Mr Bagley, regarding the H1B visa Mr Jaishankar conveyed to his American interlocutors that “this in a sense it is a trade and business issue, it is an economy issue.”
The spokesman also pointed to a statement by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), the apex body of Indian software companies, which essentially suggested that the suspension of the premium processing processing of H 1B visa was not a very significant impediment.
H1-B visa is a non-immigrant visa given by the United States to employ skilled workers from other countries for various specialised fields of occupation for a certain period of time.
In keeping with its “America first” slogan, the Trump administration, on assuming power, had reintroduced recently a Bill that prohibits companies from hiring H1-B employees if they employ more than 50 people and more than 50 per cent of their employees are H1-B and L-1 visa holders and encourages companies to recruit American workers. The provision cracks down on outsourcing companies that bring a large number of H-1B and L-1 workers for short training periods and then send these workers back to their home country to do the work of Americans, the Senators, who introduced the Bill, had said.
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