H-1B visa row: India monitoring developments, to hold meet with industrialists, says Nirmala Sitharaman

In the aftermath of United States President Donald Trump's crackdown on the H1-B visa, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said they are monitoring developments with the Ministry of External Affairs to take a call on the issue soon. The minister also said that she will hold a meeting with all the industries, which have their presence in the United States, once Parliament Session is over.

The delegation will highlight and share information with the new US administration on direct jobs being created by Indian IT companies in the US, and contribution of Indian IT firms in making the US economy competitive.

India had recently said it has conveyed its concern to the US over a bill being introduced in the Congress to change rules on H1-B visas which is likely to impact the Indian IT industry and Indian techies working in the US. "India's interests and concerns have been conveyed both to the US administration and the US Congress at senior levels," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said.

According to the IANS, three bills have been introduced to Congress which reportedly seek to restructure the H1-B visa programme, including one that would raise the salary threshold, making it more expensive for Indian firms to send employees to America.

The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017, introduced in House of Representatives by California Congressman Zoe Lofgren, calls for doubling the minimum salary of H1-B visa holders to $130,000 from the current minimum wage of $60,000 — a move that could impact Indian techies.

Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. AFP.

Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. AFP.

The bill, likely to be signed by Trump, would make it difficult for firms to use the programme to replace American employees with foreign workers, including from India, with lower wages.

India’s IT outsourcing industry is worth around $108 billion, according to industry body Nasscom, the National Association of Software and Services Companies, with almost four million people employed in the sector.

Indian IT sector, which contributes 9.3 percent of the country's GDP, is one of the largest private sector employer at 3.7 million people. Nasscom president R Chandrashekhar told AFP that restrictions would create uncertainty and leave US businesses short of the skilled workers they need.

According to some reports, analysts say the issue also threatens to sour Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s burgeoning relationship. The leaders have extended mutual invitations to visit their respective countries but are heading for a clash on visas.

Firstpost's Sulekha Nair writes: "Trump, in an attempt to fulfill his poll promise of providing more jobs to Americans, has proposed a bill that increases the minimum salaries of H1-B employees to $130,000. The bill is likely to increase the cost of the Indian IT firms, which derive 62 percent of their revenue from the US and send many Indian staff on this visa to the US for working offsite."

(With inputs from agencies)


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Updated Date: Feb 06, 2017 18:33:41 IST

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