BUSINESS

Jaitley raises H-1B issue with U.S. Commerce Secretary

Arun Jaitley

Arun Jaitley  

Highlights contribution of Indian skills to the U.S. economy

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has raised with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross India’s concerns over the Trump administration’s move to tighten the H-1B visa regime, highlighting the key role played by Indian professionals in boosting the American economy.

President Donald Trump this week signed an executive order for tightening the rules of the H-1B visa programme to stop its “abuse” and ensure that the visas are given to the “most-skilled or highest paid” petitioners, a decision that would impact India’s $150 billion IT industry.

The Indian IT industry has expressed serious concerns over the U.S.’ move to tighten the rules for grant of the H-1B visa, mainly used by domestic IT professionals for short-term work.

During the meeting, Mr. Jaitley raised the issue of recent executive orders which indicate a possible tightening of the H-1B visa regime.

He outlined the significant contributions that skilled Indian professionals have made to the U.S. economy and expressed the hope that the U.S. administration will take this aspect into consideration while taking any decision.

During the meeting — the first cabinet-level interaction between the two countries under the Trump Administration — Mr. Ross is believed to have said that the U.S. has started the process of reviewing H-1B visas issues and no decision has been taken on them yet, they said.

Mr. Ross is understood to have said that whatever the outcome of the review process, the Trump administration’s objective is to have a merit-based immigration policy that gives preference to highly-skilled professionals.

The executive order signed by Mr. Trump earlier this week calls for a review of H-1B visas by the departments of State, Labour, Homeland Security and Justice.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialised fields.

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