Tighter H-1B Visa Norms Aimed at Curb­ing Fraud: Sha­l­abh Ku­mar

Reg­u­la­tions not a blan­ket puni­tive mea­sure against In­dian pros, says prom­i­nent In­dian-Amer­i­can in­dus­tri­al­ist

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Di­pan­janRoy.Chaud­hury @times­group.com

New Delhi: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's pro­posed ex­ec­u­tive or­der to tighten H-1B visa reg­u­la­tions is aimed at curb­ing fraud and is not a blan­ket puni­tive mea­sure against In­dian pro­fes­sion­als, ac­cord­ing to Sha­l­abh Ku­mar, a prom­i­nent In­dian-Amer­i­can in­dus­tri­al­ist who is close to Trump.

“Cur­rently, there is lot of spec­u­la­tion about tough reg­u­la­tions for H-1B visas, which have ben­e­fit­ted In­dian soft­ware pro­fes­sion­als in the USA for years,” Ku­mar told ET on Fri­day over the phone from the US. “How­ever, such changes in reg­u­la­tions can only come through Con­gres­sional ac­tion and this will take time.”

The re­mark comes amid re­ports that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will in­tro­duce tough reg­u­la­tions for H-1B visas that might im­pact hun­dreds of In­dian soft­ware pro­fes­sion­als in the US. Ku­mar, who also chair­man of Trump's In­dian-Amer­i­can Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil, has played a key role in shap­ing the pres­i­dent’s po­si­tion on In­dia from the cam­paign days.

“A very small per­cent­age of the H-1B visa hold­ers and their pro­mot­ers are in­vol- ved in fraud. What the pres­i­dent is propos­ing to do is to en­force ex­ist­ing laws through his or­der. I guess that it is the fraud­u­lent sec­tion which is mak­ing some noises over the ex­ec­u­tive or­der,” Ku­mar said. “The pres­i­dent wants to tar­get this sec­tion which is in­volved in fraud. He is walk­ing the talk and ful­fill­ing his elec­toral prom­ises.”

The in­dus­tri­al­ist, who is set to re­ceive the Global En­trepreneur­ship Award from the In­dian gov­ern­ment, is hope­ful of a bright fu­ture for the In­dian soft­ware in­dus­try in the US de­spite the pro­posed ex­ec­u­tive or­der. “The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is aim­ing for an eco­nomic growth of 4.5%, and to achieve this goal there would be re­quire­ment of sev­eral IT pro­fes­sion­als. This would give an­other push to In­dia-US ties. In­dian soft­ware gi­ants would play a role in train­ing lo­cal pop­u­la­tion to meet nec­es­sary re­quire­ments,” noted Ku­mar even as top In­dian soft­ware firms pre­pared to head to the US to dis­cuss the pro­posed H-1B visas reg­u­la­tions with the ad­min­is­tra­tion and other stake­hold­ers there.

Ku­mar said Trump’s phone call to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi be­fore he spoke with other lead­ers re­flects the im­por­tance at­tached to ties with In­dia.

“The two lead­ers have connected well even be­fore they met. Pres­i­dent Trump’s team is be­ing put in place and it would take three months for the ad­min­is­tra­tion to set­tle down. The US pres­i­dent and In­dian PM could meet after that,” he said.

Be­sides trade ties, counter-ter­ror and de­fence part­ner­ship will be part of the Indo-US agenda, ac­cord­ing Ku­mar. He, how­ever, de­clined to com­ment on whether he will suc­ceed Richard Verma as the US en­voy to In­dia. Ku­mar has played a role in es­tab­lish­ing some links between the In­dian gov­ern­ment and the Trump team dur­ing the tran­si­tion pe­riod after Novem­ber 8.

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