Modi-Trump meet: The much talked-about meeting between PM Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump is now finally over. And, contrary to expectations, the crucial H1B visa issue failed to find mention in the Modi-Trump talks, PTI reported. Noteworthy, the issue was looming on the Indo-US relationship in the run up to PM Modi’s maiden meeting with the US President. However, the issue held centrestage ahead of Modi’s US visit and widely expected to figure prominently in bilateral discussions as the Trump administration was undertaking a review of the H1B visa, the most sought-after by Indian IT professionals. There was also no mention of the H1B visa issue in the Indo-US joint statement issued after the two leaders met. There have been growing concerns in India over the crackdown on H1B visas in the wake of layoffs by the IT sector companies.
Trump signed an executive order in April for tightening the rules of the H1B visa programme to stop visa abuses. Trump said his administration is going to enforce ‘Hire American’ rules that are designed to protect jobs and wages of workers in the US.
However, the H1B issue specifically did not figure in the talks with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar telling reporters that there was a lot of discussion with business leaders and the two leaders about the digital partnership when asked about whether H1B visa issue figured in the talks. “There is recognition that the Indian-American community has played an extraordinary role in building this relationship. When you value something it is obvious that you will take care of what you value,” Jaishankar said.
The White House, in a fact sheet, said Indian-Americans have embraced innovation and entrepreneurship, sitting at the forefront of Silicon Valley’s technology revolution, and founding an estimated 15 per cent of Silicon Valley startups. “They have helped to develop the Pentium chip, fiber optics, and noise cancelling headphones, among numerous other innovations,” it said.
Today, nearly four million Indian-Americans reside in the United States and over 700,000 US citizens live in India. Last year, the United States government issued nearly one million visas to Indian citizens, and facilitated 1.7 million visits by Indian citizens to the United States.
Ahead of the meeting, a senior Trump administration official had said the Trump administration has signed some executive orders related to work and immigration, and President Trump’s executive order on H1B visas directs the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security to propose potential reforms to the H1B visa programme.