India to raise H1B issue with U.S.

Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

India will raise the issue of H1B visas for IT workers during the upcoming ‘two plus two dialogue’ with the United States, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said here on Thursday. Addressing the Rajya Sabha, the Minister said that India is trying to avoid changes in the H1B visa policy of the United States.

“I assure you that at the ‘2 plus 2 dialogue’, which is to be held in Delhi on September 6, in which the External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister of both countries will participate, we will certainly and forcefully raise this issue during that, too,” Ms. Swaraj told the members of the Rajya Sabha.

‘No major shift’

During the annual press conference of 31 May, Ms. Swaraj had said the U.S. had sovereign right to decide on H1B visa but had declared that India would leave “no stone unturned” in ensuring a fair procedure on this issue.

On Thursday, the senior Minister informed the Rajya Sabha that there was not yet a major shift in the H1B visa policy of the U.S., but maintained that growing restrictions on the visa rules by the Trump administration was a cause of concern to the “Indian government, the Opposition members and the entire House.”

‘Trying out best’

“But yes, the apprehensions are there. The number of visas may be cut or the norms may be made stricter. But we are trying our best that this should not happen. I have raised it with my counterpart [previous Secretary of State] Rex Tillerson. The Finance Minister raised it with US Trade and Commerce Secretary and our Commerce Minister, too, raised it recently,” the Minister said.

Ms. Swaraj said the government has been in touch with the U.S. administration regarding the issue. However, she observed, that despite the tightening of rules by the Trump administration, the number of visas has actually gone up from 1,08,000 in 2014 to 1,29,000 in 2018.

“The Government has decided to continue our engagement with the U.S. side proactively,” she stated.

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Printable version | May 1, 2021 9:06:29 PM |

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