By Arun Kumar
‘High skilled Indian professionals provide technological and competitive edge to US companies.’
Amid reports that President Donald Trump is thinking of imposing new limits on H-1B visas, India has highlighted how high skilled Indian professionals provide technological and competitive edge to the US companies.
India has also expressed the hope that the ongoing “review of non-immigration visa by the US Government will take into account the long term benefits of H1B visa for US competitiveness and not affect provision of essential services” during the global covid crisis.
Trump’s April 22 proclamation banning the entry of certain Green Card holders, had reportedly left the H-1B program untouched thanks to influential US tech industry lobby despite pressure from his Republican supporters.
Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla addressed “the issue of movement of high-skilled Indian professionals, including those pertaining to the H1B visa program” in a virtual address to the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM).
“There is some anxiety among our people and industry about restrictions on H-1B visa as part of the US Administration’s review of their non-immigrant visa regime,” Shringla told the trade association of Indian Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing industry Tuesday.
The Indian government has closely consulted all stakeholders and engaged with the US Government on H-1B issue, he said, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking it up, “along with the issue of the totalization agreement, during the visit of President Trump to India in February.”
Noting that the onset of the covid-19 pandemic in the US and the attendant impact on the US economy had led to a change in the situation,
Shringla stressed the need for “a realistic yet effective approach.”
“Accordingly, our approach has been to work at the diplomatic level and deal with each specific issue one at a time.”
“We were able to intervene early on in our lockdown with the US Government on the issue of temporary relief for H-1B visa holders whose visas were expiring in this period, on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
In its engagements, India had “emphasized that this has been a mutually-beneficial partnership which should be nurtured,” Shingla said.
Modi had also underlined during President Trump’s visit to India that “the most important foundations of this special friendship between India and America are our people-to-people relations. Be it professionals or students, Indian Diaspora has been the biggest contributor to this in the USA.”
India, Shringla said, had “continued to stress that the economic and trade linkages are a strong pillar of our strategic partnership, particularly in technology and innovation domains.”
“High skilled Indian professionals working in the US through H-1B and related non-immigrant visa regimes bridge the crucial skill gap and provide technological and competitive edge to the US companies,” he said.
India had also “highlighted that high-skilled Indian professionals are engaged in the fight against covid across various fields including doctors, nurses, tech workers developing solutions for companies fighting the epidemic.”
“We hope the review of non-immigration visa by the US Government will take into account the long term benefits of H1B visa for US competitiveness and not affect provision of essential services at this critical hour,” Shringla said.
A National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) study, he noted, has shown that the unemployment rate for workers employed in Computer Occupations was actually lower last month than it was in January 2020.
Similarly, the CATO study’s results on H-1B employers paying the professionals about 20% higher than the average market wage have also been highlighted.
India had been “highlighting these studies to our interlocutors,” Shringla said noting, “It is important to remain engaged with all stakeholders and decision-makers/influencers, including the US Congress.”
The Indian government, he assured the trade body, “would be happy to continue our work with NASSCOM on these issues.”