In a major fillip to Indian IT industry and professionals, the US has underlined that there is no ‘significant change’ in the H1B visa regime, the Narendra Modi government has said. While briefing the Lok Sabha, Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has allayed the apprehensions of Indian professionals working in US and those who want to persue their careers in that country. “I am glad to say that as regards the H1B visa for 2018, the US government has already notified their position and there is not any significant change from the existing regime,” Sitharaman said. She also said, “The fear, at least for 2017, is not proved to be correct. They (US authorities) are saying their current priority is to deal with the illegal immigrants.”
What is H1B visa
The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialised fields. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.
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The issue over H1B visa
Meanwhile, a legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives which among other things calls for more than doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to USD 130,000, making it difficult for firms to use the programme to replace American employees with foreign workers.
Steps taken by India
Sitharaman, however, said in Lok Sabha that India is articulating its concerns regarding the visa policy vigorously with the new administration in the US. “The fear, at least for 2017, is not proved to be correct. They (US authorities) are saying their current priority is to deal with the illegal immigrants,” she said during Question Hour. Sitharaman said the issue was also taken up by the Commerce Minister recently with visiting Congressional delegation led by Bob Goodlatte and during the visit of Commerce Secretary and Foreign Secretary to the US during first week of March 2017.
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The Minister said India’s concerns on visa issues were articulated during the Strategic and Commerce Dialogue 2016 and Trade Policy Forum 2016 held in October, 2016. She said India had decided to continue their engagement on visa issues and reiterated their shared resolve to facilitate the movement of professionals.
Sitharaman said a number of industry bodies have raised concerns on visa policies of the US and these concerns were conveyed to the US authorities by the government. The Minister said the US monitors policies of 73 countries and India may be one of them. “But we don’t recognise any monitoring by any countries. No unilateral policing is acceptable for India,” she said.
(With agency inputs)