India not discussing individual cases with US: Nirmala Sitharaman on H-1B

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said the government has taken up the H-1B visa issue with the US but it is not discussing the problems of individual IT companies.

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. (PTI)

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said the government has taken up the H-1B visa issue with the US but it is not discussing the problems of individual IT companies. “We are certainly talking with the US administration on H-1B visas. However, I am not talking on each of these firms,” she told reporters here.

She was responding to a query about the US accusations that top Indian IT firms including TCS and Infosys were unfairly cornering the lion’s share of H-1B visas by putting extra tickets in the lottery system, which the Trump administration wants to replace with a more merit-based immigration policy.

The minister said India has raised the issue of change in the H-1B visa policy and “not on specific companies”.

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As regards H-1B, after due discussions, an understanding was reached between India and US on issuance of these visas and India is raising the issue of proposed changes announced by America.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has already raised the issue of restrictions on H-1B visa twice with the US as India fears the curb would impact the movement of Indian IT professionals to America.

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order for tightening the rules of the H-1B visa programme to stop its ‘abuse’ and ensure that the visas are given to the ‘most- skilled or highest paid’ petitioners, a decision that would impact India’s USD 150 billion IT industry.

The Indian IT industry has expressed serious concerns over this as these visas are mainly used by domestic IT professionals for short-term work in America.

The H-1B 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. Indian technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year for their US operations.

The US market accounts for about 60 per cent of the revenue of the Indian IT industry.

Reforming the H-1B visa system was one of the major election promises of Trump. As per several US reports, a majority of the H-1B visas every year are grabbed by Indian IT professionals.

India accounts for the highest pool of qualified IT professionals, whose services go a long way in making American companies globally competitive.

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