Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told U.S. President Barack Obama that certain aspects of the proposed changes in the American immigration laws will hit Indian IT professionals, eliciting a promise from the US that concerns will be looked into.
Dr. Singh raised the issue during his three-hour discussion with Obama in Washington on Friday and said that the Indian IT sector is a major contributor to US’ GDP and employment generation besides being a cementing force between the two countries and any barriers would be counter-productive.
The Prime Minister expressed concerns over the changes proposed by the US in the immigration laws. He noted that any restrictions on the movement of services will have an adverse impact on India.
The US President said the concerns will be looked into while considering changes in immigration laws.
He told Dr. Singh that the matter is still an open question and it is not going to happen in the next few months as it is still under consideration of the Congress.
The US President mentioned that immigration laws needed to be reformed to fix the gaps.
Later, addressing business leaders in New York, Dr. Singh said Indian IT companies have been the “most ardent champions” of India-US relations and barriers would affect the perception in India about bilateral economic partnership with the US.
“I would like to use this opportunity to urge you to oppose efforts to create barriers for Indian IT companies through legislative or administrative measures,” Dr. Singh said.
“The inability of IT companies to operate in the US market would not only affect our economy, but also the climate of opinion in India about the economic partnership with the US,” he added.
He said that a number of tax-related concerns of US companies that have wholly-owned subsidiaries in India have been addressed.
Dr. Singh noted that some security related restrictions on electronic imports were perceived as “disguised protectionism.”
“We have put these restrictions in abeyance and will work to find more acceptable solutions that address our legitimate security needs,” he said.
Ahead of the Obama-Singh meeting, US India Business Council (USIBC) President Ron Somers had sided with India on the concerns related to certain provisions of the immigration bill, in particular those related to the H-1B and L1 visas.
“Let’s have an immigration bill that does not close our borders when we are asking India to open hers,” Mr. Somers had said.
He said USIBC is taking up the case of India and Indian companies on Capitol Hill and exuded confidence that its views would be incorporated in the final version of the bill.