“Buy Americans Hire Americans” executive order signed by Trump earlier this week.
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is in Washington, DC, on a five-day US visit, held a discussion with the US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The minister conveyed concerns of the Indian IT companies and IT professionals over the recent changes in the H-1B program.
At the meeting held in Washington, which also turned out to be the first official cabinet-level discourse between an Indian representative and a Trump administration official, Ross is believed to have said that the US is definitely in the path of reviewing the existing H-1B visa system. But, no final decision has been taken as of now.
Jaitley, who before coming to the US, told reporters that he will take up the issue of IT companies and employees. He highlighted the contributions made by them in fostering the economic growth of the United States. He stressed the importance of sustaining the reciprocity so that both India and the US continues to benefit out of it.
Ross, apparently, told Jaitley that the Trump administration has envisioned an overhauling of the existing visa system by adopting a merit-based immigration policy that will give more weight to skilled professionals.
The “Buy Americans Hire Americans” executive order signed by Trump earlier this week had directed the federal agencies, such as State Labor, Homeland Security and Justice Departments, to review the H-1B visa system. They are instructed to come up with an alternate solution to clamp visa fraud and abuse so that more native workers get employment.
Jaitley and his delegation arrived in the US on Thursday morning to attend the spring meetings of International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the G-20 nations. He is expected to hold bilateral meetings with representatives of US, Australia, France, Indonesia, and Sweden in the coming two days. He is also likely to meet finance ministers from India’s neighboring countries – Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
During the meeting held between Jaitley and Ross, the minister pressed on taking the US-India relationship to the next level by strengthening strategic, economic and defense relationship.
Since Trump took charge of the White House, there has been three instances when Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi held conversations with his US counterpart. Adding to this, Modi is also set to visit the US soon.
Jaitley is also believed to have discussed with Ross the post-demonetization scenario in India and the prospects of the new Goods and Service Tax (GST) bill.
Before his New York visit, which is scheduled for Sunday, Jaitley will meet prominent Indian Americans and will interact with think tanks in Washington, DC.
The Indian IT Industry has been in a 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.