'Strict US visa norms to hurt India-US relations'

'Strict US visa norms to hurt India-US relations'

After the diplomatic spat over the arrest of an Indian Foreign Service officer in New York, the proposed immigration overhaul in the US seems to be emerging as a major irritant in New Delhi’s ties with Washington DC.

New Delhi’s envoy to Washington, S Jaishankar, used an interview to a news agency to send out a clear message to the US, warning that any move to restrict movement of skilled professionals from India to the US would hurt bilateral ties. 

He also warned that tightening the visa regime would hurt not only India, but also the US economy.  “We think this is actually going to be harmful to us. It would be harmful to the American economy and, frankly, it would be harmful to the relationship,” Jaishankar said in an interview.

“Once I feel I'm not getting a fair deal, I am less responsive to the concerns of the other party. Then tomorrow if an American company comes and says, ‘You know, we've got this set of problems,’ the temptation for me is to say, ‘I'm out for lunch.’”  

Jaishankar’s remark came at a time when India and the US are trying to mend fences after a month-long diplomatic spat that followed the arrest of Devyani Khobragade in New York on December 12, allegedly for underpaying her domestic help.

New Delhi has been conveying its concerns over the US Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill ever since it was passed by the US Senate last year. 
The bill has provisions that seek to put in place a ban on client site placement for workers with H1B visas, new restrictions on client site placement for the ones with L1 visas and limits total percentage of both H1B and L1 workers in the workforce of the US companies. 
It seeks to raise the H1-B visa cap from the present 85,000 to 1,95,000, but has provisions to penalise companies, which are primarily dependent on foreign professionals entering the US on such visas.The bill is yet to become a law as the American House of Representative has not yet passed it.
New Delhi is of the view that such provisions in the proposed legislation might hurt interests of the Indian Information Technology companies doing business in the US.DH News ServiceJaishankar told the news agency that India's IT companies were contributing to the US economy by making them more competitive. He conveyed New Delhi’s concerns to more than 25 US lawmakers ever since taking over as India’s new envoy to the US in December. 

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