Trump’s merit-based immigration proposal could benefit Indians

Mar 2, 2017 0

By Arul Louis

New York — US President Donald Trump’s proposal for a merit-based immigration system has the potential to benefit Indians, a large number of whom have high levels of education and skills.

But this will ultimately depend on the finer details of how the proposal is implemented.

In his State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, Trump said the US should give out green cards using a merit-based system similar to those of Canada and Australia in place of its current “outdated” programme.

“Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others — have a merit-based immigration system,” he said.

“It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.”

By not following such a system, he said the US was “straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon.

“Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits: it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — enter the middle class,” he said.

Trump did not make any mention of those working in the US on temporary professional work visas known as H-1B.

In earlier speeches, he had said that he would root out abuses in that visa category and restrict them if they were to throw Americans out of work.

Those who qualify for H1-B visas under more stringent conditions either imposed by the Trump Administration or by a bill introduced jointly by a Republican and a Democratic in Congress would likely have a leg up in the merit system.

Any drastic reform of the immigration process will be a difficult undertaking for Trump.

Trump did not spell out how the merit-based system would work.

On the face of it, Indians would make a good fit for a merit-based system going by the community’s current profile.

According to a report by the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Indians in the US are college graduates.

The US Census Bureau reported that in 2013, the median household income for Indian families was over $100,000.

But there are other factors such as whether the current national quotas or limits on people from any country who could be admitted in a year are retained could ultimately determine how it plays out for Indians.

President Donald Trump

The proposal will have to clear many hurdles.

First of all, it will run into opposition mainly from the Democratic Party which would argue that it would not help the poor and the unskilled immigrate to the US and discriminate against immigrants from Latin American countries whom the party counts as a key part of its base.

A way out for Trump might be to barter the merit-based reform for allowing some illegal immigrants to stay on in the country.

In Canada, applicants for immigration are given points for different qualifications like education, skill levels, employability, language and family ties.

They would have to meet a minimum score to be allowed to immigrate.

Currently, the US immigration system restricts the number of people who can immigrate from each country to seven percent of the total number allowed in except for immediate relatives of citizens.

This has led to several years’ wait for Indians to get their green cards.

There is also an annual limit of 140,000 on employment-based green cards.

Because of the limits, most professionals from India have to wait as long as 12 years for a green card and those with “exceptional qualifications” nine years, according to the State Department visa availability data for March.

A merit-based system has the potential to cut down the wait.

How the reform would ultimately affect Indians could depend on how country limits and the cap on the number of employment visas are retained or handled and also on the retention of the immigration privileges for brothers and sisters of citizens and their families.

The reform may also affect the ability of brothers and sisters and elderly parents of citizens to immigrate if they are subjected to a points system.

“I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws,” Trump said.

He appealed to the Democrats for bipartisan support for immigration reform.

“If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens, then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades,” he said. (IANS)

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Modi urges US to develop a farsighted perspective on movement of professionals

Feb 21, 2017 0

New Delhi–Welcoming a 26-member bipartisan delegation from the US Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday urged the United States to develop a balanced outlook towards the movement of skilled professionals, said an official here.

Underlining the contribution of the Indian talent to the US economy and society, the Prime Minister asked the United States to develop a reflective, balanced and farsighted perspective on movement of skilled professionals, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

“The Prime Minister shared his perspective on areas where both countries can work even more closely, including in facilitating greater people-to-people linkages that have over the years helped in contributing to each other’s prosperity,” it said.

India, in January, had expressed its concern over a bill to change rules on H-1B visas that will impact the IT industry and Indian techies working in America.

The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017, introduced in the House of Representatives by California Congressman Zoe Lofgren, calls for doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to $130,000 from the current minimum of $60,000 — a move that could impact Indian techies.

Calling the visit as a good start to bilateral exchanges following a new US administration, Modi recalled his “positive conversation with President Donald Trump and the shared commitment to further strengthening of ties that have grown deeper in the last two-and-a-half years”.

“In this regard, he recognised Congress’s strong bipartisan support for the India-US partnership,” the statement added. (IANS)

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US government supports setting up F-16 facility in India: Lockheed Martin

Feb 16, 2017 0

Bengaluru– Lockheed Martin on Thursday said it is getting all support from the US government for its plan to move the production facility of its F-16 next generation fighters to India.

Randall L. Howard, F-16 Business Development head at Lockheed Martin, said at a press conference here that talks with the Indian government for the facility have reached a level where it is likely to turn into a government-to-government discussion.

“We have strong support from the US government. The discussions are at a point where it has become a government-to-government issue,” Howard said.

Lockheed Martin has offered to move its production line of the latest version of fighter aircraft F-16 Block 70 to India from Texas to meet Indian and global requirement.

The Defence Ministry has said it is looking forward to start a line of production for both single engine and twin engine fighter aircraft in India. This will however happen only when India chooses the aircraft for the Indian Air Force.

Randy said so far the company has received a communication from India inquiring about single engine aircraft.

In October 2016, the Defence Ministry started issuing requests-for-information (RFIs) for a new single-engine multi-role fighter to replace the Indian Air Force’s MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighters.

Saab’s Gripen and Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70 have so far appeared to be top competitors for the deal.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at a press conference on the first day of Aero India 2017 show here was asked if US President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ would come in the way of Make in India and stop US firms from participating in the programme.

Parrikar had said the question should be asked to companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

“…What I will say is what I want… I want you to Make in India, if someone wants to shift production to some place else, it is his choice,” Parrikar had said.

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Indian Ambassador Navtej Sarna Hosts Congressional Reception on Capitol Hill

Feb 14, 2017 0

Washington, DC–Ambassador of India Navtej Sarna hosted a Congressional Reception at the Capitol “to celebrate India’s engagement with the 115th US Congress” on Tuesday.

Addressing an impressive gathering of members of Congress, prominent Indian-Americans, congressional staffers, business representatives and media, Ambassador described the upcoming visit of 27 distinguished members of Congress as a very important milestone and demonstrative of the high degree of interest in India, and the strong bipartisan support for the India-US relationship, based on shared democratic values and converging strategic interests. He looked forward to a more robust economic and commercial cooperation as India retains its spot as the fastest growing major economy.

Congressman Steny Hoyer, House Democratic Whip echoed the bipartisan support for the India relationship and emphasized cooperation on security issues between the two largest democracies. Congressman Pete Olson spoke glowingly of the positive contributions of the Indian-American community in the way of life of Texans. He emphasized the significance of the port of Houston for energy exports.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Sub-committee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats emphasized the importance of US-India cooperation in addressing the threat arising from extremist radical terrorism. He also spoke of the potential of US companies contributing in the economic transformation of India.

Congressman Ami Bera, Democratic Chair of the House India Caucus said that the increase in number of elected Indian-Americans currently in Congress is a testimony to the remarkable strides that the Indian-American community has made and the growing closeness between the two countries that is based on shared values. He noted that the India Caucus is the largest one on the Hill and his firm belief that the US-India relationship will be a defining one for the 21st century.

Congressman George Holding, Republican Chair of House India Caucus spoke of the importance of building the economic cooperation alongside the political relationship and looked forward to his upcoming visit to India.

Congressman Hank Johnson noted India’s millennial old history and reputation for peacefulness and the link between the non-violent movement for civil rights led by Dr. Martin Luther King and the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and looked forward to his forthcoming visit to India.

Other Members of Congress present included Senator Jeff Flake, Congressman Bob Goodlatte- Chairman of House Judiciary committee, Congressman Andy Harris, Congressman Ted Poe- Chairman House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non- proliferation and Trade and Congressman Joe Kennedy.

Two distinguished Congressional delegations shall be visiting India in the week of 19th February. One delegation traveling under the auspices of the Aspen Institute and comprising 19 senior Congressmen shall be visiting Delhi, Hyderabad and the other led by Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Bob Goodlatte, and comprising 8 distinguished Congressmen has Delhi and Bangalore on its itinerary. They would have the opportunity to engage with Indian Ministers, decision makers, thinkers, business representatives and partake of the rich Indian cultural palette.

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India, US vow to boost defense ties

Feb 9, 2017 0

Washington– India and the US have agreed to maintain the pace and momentum of their partnership, particularly in the defence ties, after US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis spoke over phone with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, American and Indian officials said on Thursday.

Manohar Parrikar

Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said it was the “first conversation” between Mattis and Parrikar.

“Secretary Mattis committed to build upon the tremendous progress in bilateral defence cooperation made in recent years, underscoring the strategic importance of the US-India relationship and India’s role in advancing global peace and security,” Davis said after the two leaders spoke on Wednesday.

Jim Mattis

Mattis and Parrikar, Davis said, also “affirmed their commitment to sustain the momentum on key bilateral defence efforts to include the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative”.

The Defence Ministry in a statement in Delhi said the two leaders “expressed satisfaction at the progress in defence cooperation between India and the United States, especially in recent years and noted its significance in the regional and global context”.

It said Mattis and Parrikar “emphasised the special significance and high priority placed by both countries to the relationship, and resolved to work together to further consolidate and expand this partnership in the future”.

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20 Business Organizations Urge Congressional Action to Improve U.S.-India Economic Relationship

Feb 2, 2017 0

WASHINGTON, D.C.– As a new US Congress and administration start to define policies, business leaders representing nearly all sectors of the U.S. economy sent a letter to congressional leadership, urging them to work for a more robust and reciprocal U.S.-India economic relationship, including the advancement of concrete and lasting policy reforms to address ongoing challenges in India that have negatively impacted U.S. industries and jobs, according to a statement by Alliance for Fair Trade With India.

The letter notes: “While there have been several steps in the right direction over the past two and a half years since Prime Minister Modi’s election, including foreign investment openings in a few sectors, fossil fuel and energy efficiency policy initiatives, efforts to address infrastructure project permitting and licensing challenges, and passage of legislation related to bankruptcy and tax reforms, concrete and lasting policy changes to address a number of other longstanding issues comprehensively remain elusive.”

West side view of the United States Capitol building.

Among the outstanding issues manufacturers face in India, the letter cites “forced localization measures; high tariffs, including some contrary to India’s WTO commitments; foreign ownership restrictions in a number of sectors, including Business to Consumer (B2C) retail; insufficient protection of intellectual property rights; long and inconsistent government approvals and licenses; and unique and onerous standards and testing procedures” that harm opportunities for manufacturers in the United States and undermine efforts to deepen the U.S.-India relationship.

The letter concludes: “The U.S. government, including Congress, should use all available channels to ensure fair play for businesses, investors, and entrepreneurs across the United States, and to support Indian efforts that align with these goals,” including strengthening dialogue channels and active use of appropriate trade enforcement tools.

Business organizations signing the letter are: Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), American Business Conference (ABC), American Chemistry Council (ACC), American Foundry Society (AFS), Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), CropLife America, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), New Jersey Business & Industry Association, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates (SOCMA), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB).

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US-based Skybox Security logs 154 percent increase in revenue from India

Feb 2, 2017 0

New Delhi–Cyber security firm Skybox Security on Thursday said it has registered a 154 per cent increase in revenue (year-over-year) earned from the Indian businesses in 2016.

Skybox recently opened an India support centre in Bengaluru, providing additional technical support to customers in the country and the Asia-Pacific and China (APAC) region.

Avi Corfas

“Internet penetration and adoption of ‘leap frog’ technologies like WLAN, mobile devices and virtualised networks are driving growth because they bring with them a dramatically different threat landscape and security management challenges,” said Avi Corfas, Vice President, APAC and Latin America, Skybox Security, in a statement.

As part of its Digital India initiative, The National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Center (NCIIPC) recently released 40 tenets to improve cybersecurity in organisations essential to the economy, health and defence.

“Compliance may be the number one operational challenge for Indian businesses — most businesses, for that matter,” added Sridhar Namachivayan, Regional Director of India and Saarc, Skybox.

Skybox works with 15 top-tier channel partners in India, including Mahindra SSG, Valuepoint Techsol, Wipro and HCL.

“Without network automation to streamline workflows, data collection and analysis, tracking and reporting, security teams simply can’t keep up with compliance requirements. On top of that workload, they must also be concerned with the needs of the business and the day-to-day protection of their organisation,” Namachivayan added.

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Modi-Trump meeting in June may make things better for H-1B visa

Jan 31, 2017 0

C.P. Gurnani

New Delhi– Grappling with the likely fallout of the US government’s proposed H-1B visa reform bill in the US House of Representatives, C.P. Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra, hopes that things will become better once Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets US President Donald Trump, most likely in June.

A legislation that calls for doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to $130,000 from the current minimum wage of $60,000, has been introduced in US House of Representatives — a move that could badly impact Indian techies in the US.

President Donald Trump

“President Trump (already) had a conversation with Prime Minister Modi. I am sure they will meet very soon. Both of them have a background (Trump has a background of running businesses and Modi is clearly a pro-business prime minister) and both will definitely find a meeting ground,” Gurnani told BTVi in an interview.

“Prime Minister Modi is not shy of raising issues or putting issues on the table and neither is Trump. So I do believe that this meeting can happen as early as June and if this meeting happens in June there should be a positive outcome,” he added.

Asserting the position of Indian IT companies in the US, Gurnani said: “In the US a few senators can sponsor a Bill but it is for the Congress to decide it’s the right Bill or not. The viewpoint of Indian industry is very loud and clear.”

He said Indian companies have been a net investor in America. India-incorporated IT companies investments is close to $2 billion in the US and India incorporated IT companies are able to create about 100,000 jobs a year in America.

“Similarly we believe that we contribute to America with very high skilled work force because we are reacting to a demand-supply. The reality is that in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the US needs that smart capital. So it’s a win-win for both India and America,” Gurnani added.

Expressing his faith on Trump’s decisiveness, Gurnani said: “My belief is that India and America both can be great because an American corporation needs the rest of the world (the world outside of America) as much as they need internal America.”

He said in an average American company 30 per cent of their business is within the US and 70 per cent is outside the US.

On Tech Mahindra’s operations in the US, Gurnani said: “Even before the Trump administration, we had six development centers, two engineering centers, two data centers and one device testing lab in the US. And we were running it, localising it because it was the right thing to do both for Tech Mahindra and our American customers.”

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IT firm Cyient acquires US-based Certon Software for $7.5 million

Jan 24, 2017 0

Hyderabad–IT services firm Cyient Ltd., through its wholly owned subsidiary Cyient Inc., has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100 percent shares of US-based Certon Software Inc. in an all-cash transaction.

Incorporated in 2006, Certon is an IP-led innovative provider of full product life-cycle engineering services to companies seeking certification approval for safety-critical systems, embedded software and electronic hardware. It employs a core team of around 45 people and showed revenues of $7.3 million in calendar year 2015.

Anand Parameswaran

The Hyderabad-based company said that this transaction will further strengthen the automation in its key vertical aerospace and defence in line with strategy for growth.

“The enterprise value payable will be $7.5 million on a cash-free and debt-free basis, subject to closing adjustments,” Cyient said in a BSE listing.

This is Cyient’s fifth acquisition in the last 2.5 years as part of its ‘design-build-maintain’ strategy.

Cyient has a strong cash position of $127 million and will continue to look for acquisitions that will enable it to achieve its goal of industry-leading growth.

“This acquisition will enable Cyient to create a differentiated value proposition in avionics that aligns with our aerospace and defence strategy of becoming a key Design Led Manufacturing (DLM) player in this space,” said Cyient’s Senior Vice President Anand Parameswaran.

“In Cyient, Certon has found a partner that is strategically aligned to its business and whose global presence and financial strength will be of immense value,” said CEO and founder of Certon, Timothy Stockon.

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US-based Salesforce to add 1,000 jobs in Hyderabad

Jan 24, 2017 0

Hyderabad– Software services major Salesforce plans to add 1,000 jobs in Hyderabad by 2020, making the city one of its largest engineering and customer success centers globally.

The company, which opened a new Center of Excellence (CoE) here on Tuesday, will expand its team of enterprise software engineers and customer success representatives in Hyderabad .

Srinivas Tallapragada

Telangana Minister for Marketing T. Harish Rao inaugurated the CoE in the presence of US Consul General Katherine B. Hadda and Salesforce President, Technology and Product, Srinivas Tallapragada.

The company said cloud computing was growing rapidly in India.

“Our research with IDC shows that the benefits of cloud computing coming from Salesforce customers in India will add a GDP impact of $4.2 billion to the Indian economy.”

Salesforce said it remained committed to India and made significant investments since November last year. (IANS)

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