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Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to discuss H-1B visa issue with US authorities

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Jaitley will attend the spring meetings of IMS, World Bank and G-20.

Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley (Courtesy of Facebook)

Finance Minister of India Arun Jaitley whose five-day visit to the US starts on Thursday said that he will take up the issue of H-1B visa with the US authorities.

In a news media conference, Jaitley said that the concerns of the Indian technology companies will be shared with the US authorities.

“These (IT industry issues) are matters of discussion with the appropriate authorities there. Once I do discuss and get an opportunity, I will let you know,” he told reporters.

Jaitley will attend the spring meetings of International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the G-20 nations. In addition, the Finance Minister has also requested meetings with the US Treasury Secretary and other Trump administration officials during the five-day visit.

The Indian IT Industry has been in deep dilemma after the new administration went ahead fulfilling the campaign promise of Donald Trump to make the H-1B program tougher for the foreign skilled workers.

Indian IT companies such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Tech Mahindra etc. use the majority of the H-1B visas and latest figures show that almost 86% of visas granted in the H-1B category for IT jobs goes to Indian workers.

Since the Trump administration made it clear that it will crack down on the existing H-1B visa norms and draft new rules to stop the visa abuse, Indian IT companies have been under immense pressure.

President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order titled “Buy Americans Hire Americans”, directing the federal agencies to come up with a practical solution for ending the H-1B visa abuse so that more Americans might be hired. The executive order is seen as Trump’s latest move toward his “America First” campaign rhetoric.

The IT Secretary of India had said that the executive order will not have an immediate impact on the Indian IT companies. The NASSCOM, however, warned that once the review process is complete and more restrictions are imposed on the H-1B visa program, Indian IT companies will definitely feel the pain.

Official statement by the NASSCOM reads, “No new changes are being implemented immediately … Nothing is being proposed that would impact or change the FY18 H-1B lottery that is currently underway.”

The NASSCOM also said that restricting the number of H-1B employees or any move to bring down their numbers will have a negative impact on the American job market. It said that the country lacks domestic workforce with skill sets needed in IT, healthcare, education and other STEM fields.

If some of the proposed changes like wage hike are implemented it will be an additional burden for Indian IT companies as their operational cost would increase, which will adversely affect the revenue of the company.

The Indian IT companies are hoping that Jaitley’s meetings with senior members of the Trump administration will give them some respite on the H-1B visa concerns.