India throws both soft and hard balls, simultaneously. Says there are US companies in India, too, which may feel the heat.
The US Department of State’s Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said on Monday that the State Department is reviewing the immigration and H-1B related issues, for instance the interview and admission processes. He said that this activity is on since the beginning of the current administration.
“Under this White House, we have been looking at ways to strengthen our processes, our visa interview and admission processes, in many ways,” Toner said while talking to reporters during the Department’s news briefing.
However, this time, Toner did not comment on the H-1B visa process, directly. Instead, he hinted at the bilateral relations between the US and India. “With respect to the H1B visas, I don’t have any new information to share,” Toner said. “I mean, obviously, we want to see U.S.-India business-to-business ties remain strong. We greatly value Indian companies’ continued investment in the U.S. economy, which also, of course, supports thousands of U.S. jobs.”
Unlike previous comments, this time the State Department, which issues all visas, seemed a bit toned down. India’s finance minster Arun Jaitley is also on an official trip to the US. The American Bazaar published an interview with Jaitley, who was in New York, on Monday. During the interview, the minister mentioned that he has conveyed India’s concerns to the Trump administration. The minister said that he is hopeful that the US government would bear them in mind while formulating its policies.
India’s Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman, hints that US companies in India might bear repercussions, depending upon America’s stance on H-1B visas.
India’s commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday that India would respond in a similar tone, if the US does not offer a fair deal on the H-1B visas. “It is not just that Indian companies are in the US, several big US firms are in India too,” Sitharaman said in Delhi. “They are earning their margins, they are earning their profits, which go to the US economy. It is a situation which is not where only the Indian companies have to face the US executive order.”
The minister continued: “There are many US companies in India which are doing business for some years now. If this debate has to be expanded, it has to be expanded to include all these aspects. We shall ensure that all these factors are kept in mind.”
Trump signed an executive order on April 18 instructing an overhauling of the existing immigration and work visa rules. The order does not mention the H-1B visa program specifically, but the “workers from abroad” are one of its targets to ensure that American workers are given preference over foreign workers.
If the US implements the proposed curbs, skilled professionals from India will be hit, hardest. India receives nearly 70 percent of the H-1B visas, most of them for its highly skilled IT professionals.