S Jaishankar to make four-day US visit, likely to discuss H-1B visas and safety of Indians

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will visit the US from Tuesday during which key bilateral issues including India's concerns over a possible clampdown on H-1B visas and safety of Indians are expected to be discussed.

According to officials, Jaishankar will also be holding talks on regional and international issues of mutual interest with senior members of the Donald Trump administration during his four-day visit.

File image of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar. News18

File image of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar. News18

Zee News reported that on his US visit Jaishankar will meet Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. During his Washington DC visit, the foreign secretary will also be meeting with chairpersons of key Congressional Committees.

Maintaining that the government was engaged with the Trump administration as well as members of the US Congress on concerns regarding the H-1B visa issue, officials said India's view that Indian IT companies were contributing to the American economy by increasing the competitiveness of their firms will be conveyed by the foreign secretary during his meetings.

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. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.

Amid the Trump administration's move to curb H-1B visas that will impact India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 21 February pressed the US to have a 'balanced and farsighted perspective' on the movement of skilled professionals.

He made the comment while receiving a 26-member bipartisan US Congressional delegation in New Delhi.

A statement released by the PMO said, "The prime minister referred to the role of skilled Indian talent in enriching the American economy and society, and urged developing a reflective, balanced and farsighted perspective on movement of skilled professionals."

Modi's comments reflected concern that India's $150 billion IT services industry would suffer if the United States curbs the visas, known as H-1B, it relies on to send its software experts to the United States on project work.

This will be foreign secretary's first US visit since Donald Trump’s inauguration on 20 January and third since the presidential elections in November last year.

Jaishankar's visit comes close after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had a phone conversation with US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, early this month.

Also, Modi and Trump spoke to each other last month, within days of the US president’s inauguration, and they invited each other for visits. Modi was the fifth world leader that Trump contacted since taking office, a clear indication that the new president realises the importance of India.

During the visit, which will be taking place barely days after killing of an Indian engineer, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, in a crowded bar in Kansas City in an apparent hate crime incident, the issue of safety of Indian nationals is also expected to figure during the discussions between the two sides.

The Indian engineer was killed and two others injured when an American man opened fire on them after allegedly yelling "get out of my country", with the local police calling it as a "possible hate crime". The alleged hate crime has sent shocked waves among Indian-American and the Indian community across the United States.

With inputs from agencies


Published Date: Feb 27, 2017 10:58 am | Updated Date: Mar 01, 2017 10:48 am