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Jaitley raises H-1B visa issue with US Commerce Secretary

Washington, Press Trust of India, Apr 21 2017, 23:00 IST

Visa regulation to affect $150-b Indian IT biz

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI File Photo

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI File Photo

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has strongly raised with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross India’s concerns over the Trump administration’s move to tighten the H-1B visa regime, highlighting the key role played by Indian professionals in boosting the American economy.

President Donald Trump this week 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 $150-billion IT industry.

The Indian IT industry has expressed serious concerns over the US’ move to tighten the rules for grant of the H-1B visa, mainly used by domestic IT professionals for short-term work. During the meeting, Jaitley raised the issue of recent executive orders which indicate a possible tightening of the H-1B visa regime.

Finance Minister outlined the significant contributions the skilled Indian professionals have made to the US economy and expressed the hope that the US administration will take this aspect into consideration while taking any decision.

During the meeting — the first cabinet-level interaction between the two countries under the Trump Administration — Ross is believed to have said that the US has started the process of reviewing H-1B visas issues and no decision has been taken on them yet, they said.

Ross is understood to have said that whatever the outcome of the review process, the Trump administration’s objective is to have a merit-based immigration policy that gives preference to highly-skilled professionals. The executive order signed by Trump earlier this week calls for a review of H-1B visas by the departments of State, Labour, Homeland Security and Justice.

The H-1B 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. 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% of the revenue of the Indian IT industry.

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