In­dia to Take up H-1B Visa Is­sue with US Law­mak­ers

Lim­it­ing arms sale to Pak will be dis­cussed with vis­it­ing del­e­gates

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Di­pan­janRoy.Chaud­hury @times­group.com

New Delhi: Prospec­tive H-1B visa changes that may af­fect hun­dreds of In­dian pro­fes­sion­als and lim­it­ing the sup­ply of de­fence equip­ment to Pak­istan will be on the agenda for dis­cus­sions as Delhi seeks to con­sol­i­date bi­par­ti­san Con­gres­sional sup­port for ties with In­dia dur­ing the visit of 27 US law­mak­ers this week. Both mat­ters are crit­i­cal — In­dia is against the first and keen on the sec­ond.

A del­e­ga­tion of 19 US law­mak­ers will visit New Delhi and Hy­der­abad this week in a visit or­gan­ised by the Aspen In­sti­tute think tank. An­other del­e­ga­tion of eight, led by Bob Good­latte, chair­man of the US House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, will visit New Delhi and Ben­galuru around the same time.

27 US law­mak­ers will visit In­dia this week as part of two del­e­ga­tions

They will meet Union min­is­ters, mem­bers of par­lia­ment, aca­demics and in­dus­try lead­ers, said per­sons aware of the pro­gramme. They may also call on Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, who’s busy with the poll cam­paign in Ut­tar Pradesh.

This visit of Demo­cratic and Re­pub­li­can mem­bers of the Sen­ate and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives is a demon­stra­tion of “bi­par­ti­san sup­port in Amer­i­can Congress for strong In­dia-US re­la­tions,” said a per­son fa­mil­iar with Indo-US ties. The US Congress will play a crit­i­cal role in ei­ther main­tain­ing or chang­ing H-1B visa rules. The vis­its are aimed at strength­en­ing the In­dia con­stituency in the US Congress by fa­mil­iaris­ing law­mak­ers with In­dia’s pri­or­i­ties and prospects for bi­lat­eral ties, in­di­cated a per­son as­so­ci­ated with the visit.

Ge­orge Hold­ing, Re­pub­li­can chair of the In­dia Cau­cus in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and Hank John­son of the Demo­cratic Party will be among the vis­i­tors. The law­mak­ers will be vis­it­ing In­dia about a month after Don­ald Trump took over as the new Pres­i­dent, promis­ing an ‘Amer­ica First’ for­eign pol­icy. The visit is sig­nif­i­cant, com­ing ahead of Modi’s pro­posed visit to the US to meet Trump in mid-2017. Even as the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s early move to im­ple­ment tough anti-im­mi­grant mea­sures trig­gered up­roar within the US, the In­dian gov­ern­ment is keep­ing a close watch on the fate of In­dia in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy pro­fes­sion­als work­ing in Amer­ica. The mat­ter has been dis­cussed at the high­est lev­els of the two gov­ern­ments since Jan 20.

Delhi is also closely mon­i­tor­ing pro­tec­tion­ist leg­isla­tive moves. A bill spon­sored by Cal­i­for­nia Re­pub­li­can rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dar­rell Issa is un­der re­view in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

IT CON­TRI­BU­TION

The Pro­tect and Grow Amer­i­can Jobs Act will re­quire US com­pa­nies to pay high­skilled for­eign work­ers hired un­der the ‘ex­empt’ cat­e­gory of the H-1B visa pro­gramme at least $100,000 a year against the cur­rent min­i­mum of $60,000 among other curbs, thus dis­cour­ag­ing such re­cruit­ments. Delhi will seek to ar­gue against such changes by con­vey­ing to the vis­it­ing US law­mak­ers that In­dia’s IT pro­fes­sion­als and IT com­pa­nies have made sig­nif­i­cant contributions to the Amer­ica’s econ­omy, of­fi­cials said.

Last week, for­eign sec­re­tary S Jais­hankar said in Mum­bai that In­dia needs to con­vey to the US that its re­la­tion­ship with In­dia is linked to out­sourc­ing.

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