Congresswoman Jayapal for thoughtful roll-out of H1-B visa changes

May 12, 2017 0

By Aroonim Bhuyan

New Delhi–A Congresswoman of Indian origin has cautioned the Donald Trump administration against hasty changes in the H1-B visa regime, saying this should be done via the legislative route rather than through a presidential executive order.

Representative Pramila Jayapal (Democrat, Washington), now in India as part of a US Congressional delegation headed by Leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, believes that there is bipartisan support for continuing the H1-B visa programme “perhaps with some changes”.

She is also hopeful that the Trump administration will continue to prioritise India though there are concerns about the growing process between the US and China and US and Russia but she feels that India “should be right in there”.

“You can’t just stop processing when people have been waiting in line for three years to get those H1-Bs and then put a barrier there and then say you are not going to get these…,” Jayapal told IANS in an interview.

“There has to be a thoughtful roll-out to any changes we might want to make to the H1-B programme and really it should come from Congressional authority, not from the President’s executive orders,” she said.

Pramila Jayapal

Her comments come after President Trump signed the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order last month to bring in major changes regarding the H1-B visa programme, including closing loopholes for immigration fraud and a shift from the current lottery system to a mechanism that favours higher-paid and higher-skilled workers.

Indian IT companies are likely to be badly affected if the rules are brought in.

Stating that every country has to make sure that it is taking care of its workers, Jayapal, however, said that the H1-B visa programme “is incredibly valuable”. She said that there has been some abuse of H1-B visas and that needed to be addressed.

“But I really do believe that there is a lot of bipartisan support for continuing the H1-B visa programme, perhaps with come changes,” the Chennai-born former pro-immigration advocacy activist.

Stating that she is on the immigration sub-committee that is chaired by Jim Sensenbrenner (Republican, Wisconsin), who is also a part of the visiting delegation, she said: “He (Sensenbrenner) raised the issue of H1-Bs in an internal meeting and you know, I think again that there is a lot of support for an H1-B programme that provides opportunities for Indians to come to the United States, provides opportunities for them to stay and also benefits India and Indian companies.”

Regarding India-US ties following the transition from the Democrats to the Republicans in the White House, the Congresswoman said she hoped that the Trump administration would continue to prioritise India.

“We were so proud of President (Barack) Obama at many levels but certainly the fact that he prioritised US-India relations was a huge benefit I think to the United States and to the world and I think probably those relations between India and the United States were never better in the last few years,” she said.

“We very much want this administration to continue to prioritise this relationship. We hope that they appoint an excellent ambassador (to India) very soon.”

Jayapal said that apart from diplomatic ties, “there are independent economic relationships that have been established regardless of which administration is in office”.

Asked about Trump’s policies on South Asia and Indian Americans, she said that there are now five Indian-origin members in the US Congress — Senator Kamala Harris and Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna and Ami Bera, apart from her.

Stating that there is an increased interest in South Asia, she said: “I don’t think that the President himself is going to determine whether or not there are ties with South Asia. We are going to make sure that we continue to lift up the region and the importance of the region and the importance of the contributions of the South Asian Americans to the United States.”

Regarding Trump’s comments last month that countries like India, China and Russia have done nothing on climate change, she said that during the visiting delegation’s meeting with Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, the latter said that this was not just a negotiation, it was a deep belief that India has that it must address climate change and the effects of climate change.

“I don’t think that India will back away from that, from taking on the climate question,” she said.

Asked about China’s criticism of the Congressional delegation’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, she said that “we know that China would not be happy”.

“It has not changed our resolve to really make sure that we address the issue of an autonomous Tibet and the United States I think in a bipartisan way continues to be deeply committed to speaking for autonomy for Tibet and the ability to practise their religion and their culture and their philosophies freely.”

Asked about Washington’s position on Beijing’s One Belt One Road initiative, Jayapal said that Foreign Secretary Jaishankar informed the delegation that while it was seen as an investment, many of the Chinese investments were actually in the form of loans to governments and not grants.

“So we are looking to see how that rolls out,” she stated.

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In uncertain H1-B times, US firm targets Indians with EB5 – the “Golden Visa”

May 11, 2017 0

By Aroonim Bhuyan

New Delhi– As confusion looms over the future of the H1-B visa programme, an investment-facilitating firm is targeting rich Indians with the EB5 visa, popularly known as the “Golden Visa”, that promises a faster route to US citizenship.

The US Immigration Fund (USIF), which launched its Indian operations this year, is confident that affluent Indians who invest half a million dollars or more in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) — creating 10 or more jobs — under the EB5 visa programme, will get US citizenship in a shorter time compared to the H1-B visa programme.

US President Donald Trump has called for stricter norms for issuance of H1-B visas, largely availed of by Indian IT firms. A private member’s bill was also introduced earlier this year in the US Congress by Democrat Zoe Lofgren which seeks to increase the minimum salary of an H1-B visa holder to a whopping $130,000 from the current minimum of $60,000.

Donald Trump (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

“With the H1-B environment becoming tougher and tougher, demand for EB5 has gone up,” Andrew Graves, USIF’s Director of Business Development in India, told IANS.

“Indians are becoming more aware of the EB5 visa programme,” he said.

Introduced by the US Congress in 1990, the EB5 visa programme allows an individual to invest $500,000 in either of two TEAs — a high unemployment area in a US metropolis or a rural area outside of a metro — or $1 million in a non-TEA area that can create 10 or more jobs.

Earlier this month, the US Congress extended the programme, which has seen much controversy over the merits of its applicants, till September 30 this year.

Graves explained that once an application is filed for an EB5 visa programme, the applicant has to fill in a I526 form under a US attorney after which he or she gets a temporary US Green Card for 16 months.

Once the conditions are met, around two years later, the applicant has to fill in the I829 form which leads to lawful permanent residency in the US.

“So, the EB5 offers a certain way for US citizenship within roughly five years,” Graves said.

The USIF clams to have a proven track record of 100 per cent approval rating from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on all adjudicated projects.

It has 24 projects in the real estate sector to its credit with $3.2 billion in EB5 capital that includes 6,400 investors.

China is the largest beneficiary of the EB5 visa programme, accounting for 75.6 per cent or over 7,500 visas.

India is sixth in the list with 149 visas after Vietnam (334), South Korea (260), Taiwan (205) and Brazil (130).

But Graves feels that Indians can make it to the second spot after China.

“We are 100 per cent sure that India will occupy a strong second place after China,” he said.

Given the uncertainty over the H1-B visa programme, more and more Indians graduating from US universities are opting for the EB5 visa for US citizenship.

The advantage: If an H1-B visa holder is fired from his or her job, he or she will have to leave the US along with family whereas once permanent residency is attained, he or she is no longer dependent on others for staying in the US as long as the person is law-abiding and renews the Green Card on time.

But how can a fresh Indian graduate in the US afford to invest a minimum of $500,000 to apply for an EB5 visa?

“It usually comes as a gift from the family (to ensure the son or daughter’s future),” Graves said, indicating that only the more affluent Indians can afford the “Golden Visa”.

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H1-B visa reforms pose challenges but to benefit Indian economy: Former ambassador

May 5, 2017 0

New Delhi– The H1-B visa reforms pose a challenge to Indian companies but it will help the country’s economy in a direct way, according to Meera Shankar, former Indian ambassador to the US.

During a panel discussion on ‘100 days of Trump’s Presidency and India- US relations’, Shankar said on Wednesday that there was no new policy in relation with H1-B visa and the US intended to enforce it in “stricter” way to ensure it is used for “specialty occupations and not low-end occupations”.

“We do not know what that policy is going to be. It could involve enhancing threshold of wages. It could involve doing away with system of lottery. But clearly there will be process of disruption and creative engineering of process for Indian companies, which would be a challenge,” Shankar said.

Meera Shankar

“I do know that they (US) use it to move up the value scale and do more work offshore in India. So benefits of that to go to our economy in more direct way.”

Global software major Infosys on Tuesday said it would hire 10,000 American workers in the next two years, a move seen as a fallout of US President Donald Trump’s executive order on H1-B visas a fortnight ago.

Another panelist Gurcharan Das, author and public intellectual, said the development will lead Indian talent in the US to come back to the homeland and set up business here.

“May be Trump is doing a favour to us. It is a boon for Indian companies. Now, many will come back and found start-ups,” Das said.

During the discussion, Hardeep Singh Puri, who was Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, said he did not find similarities between Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The Prime Minister of India has been a Chief Minister of a large state for 12 years and he has hands-on governance per se. He actually demonstrated basic trans-formative changes in (last) three years…Trump comes to governance from the perspective of businessmen,” Puri said.

Shankar said there should not be any ideological differences between the two leaders as they come from the right wing politics.

“Both personalities have positioned themselves as strong political leaders. Trump praised Modi for his victory in Uttar Pradesh, personally congratulated him. This is a trend of the right-wing leaders coming to power across the globe. There should not be any ideological differences between the two. And what India is trying to do in democratic framework is of interest to the United States,” Shankar said.

Puri said the US “worked against” India’s plan to get permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council but said the current BJP government was “handling the issue well”.

“(At least) 130 countries are ready to support us. They (US) worked against it. They like the current arrangement. It was wrong on our part to expect the Obama administration to do heavy-lifting in its last two months,” Puri said.

“(Now) We are sending our messages across in very calibrated and nuanced manner. And by the time, the Prime Minister is ready to go to Washington, we will have in place an entire canvass of issues, on which we can do some give and take,” Puri added. (IANS)

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US Supreme Court to hear case on citizenship revocation

Apr 26, 2017 0

By Ashok Easwaran

Chicago– The United States Supreme Court is to begin hearing oral arguments on April 26 in a case which could set a precedent in the revocation of American citizenship of naturalized citizens and is of paramount significance to thousands of Indian residents.

In Maslenjak v. United States, the Supreme Court will determine if an “immaterial false statement or omission in an immigration document or status proceeding” can lead to criminal prosecution and revocation of citizenship.

With more rigorous immigration enforcement under President Donald Trump, the case has caused consternation among many immigrant activists. As many as 70 organizations representing immigrants have filed an amicus brief about the case.

The Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), which is among the organizations which filed the amicus brief, said in a statement, “The brief explained that many individuals may make minor errors in filling out immigration forms or providing information because of language barriers and lack of counsel and subjecting those individuals to criminal prosecution and loss of citizenship exacts a harsh and unfair penalty.”

“The naturalization process can be long and complicated and requires applicants to make hundreds of factual representations, in response to often ambiguous questions, about events spanning their entire lives.”

“If any trivial factual misstatement could violate the statutes at issue in this case, untold numbers of naturalized citizens would be at risk of losing their citizenship and liberty years after they have become full American citizens. Based on this case, someone accused of knowingly providing the wrong street number in an address (203 instead of 205), for example, could be subject to criminal proceedings and having their citizenship revoked – a worrying threat given the current administration’s wide-reaching enforcement and deportation activities,” the AAAJ statement said.

Maslenjak v. United States involves Divna Maslenjak, an ethnic Serbian woman and a native of Bosnia, who came to the United States in 2000 as a refugee in order to flee the civil war in the former Yugoslavia and was found to have made a misstatement during immigration proceedings.

The Supreme Court’s verdict in this case is considered important because it could provide guidance over whether naturalized American citizens can be stripped of their citizenship in a criminal proceeding based on an “immaterial false statement”.

What could have been a case dealing with procedural matters in less turbulent times, has gained importance because of the Trump administration’s enhanced focus on immigration enforcement. The New York Times has reported that officials of two organizations which take a hard line stance on immigration – the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform — have joined the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, putting them in positions where they can carry out their agenda.

Moreover, with Trump’s appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court, the court now tilts to conservatism. Gorsuch, like the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he succeeded, is a proponent of originalism – a judge given to interpret the words of the US Constitution as they were understood at the time they were written in 1787.

In one of the most famous cases where the United States Supreme Court ordered the revocation of citizenship involved an Indian, in 1923, the court ruled that Bhagat Singh Thind, a founder member of the Ghadar party, was racially ineligible for US citizenship. The court based this decision on the American Nationality Act of 1906 which allowed only “free white men” and “aliens of African nativity” to become naturalized citizens.

In his defence, Thind did not challenge the constitutionality of the racial restrictions, but made an extensive argument that as he was a “high-caste Hindu” and an Aryan, he came under the category of “free white persons” within the meaning of the naturalization act. Indians from North India and most Europeans are Indo-European people, he said. Elaborating on his argument, Thind said that since Aryans were the conquerors of the indigenous people of India, they had greater similarity to ‘white people’.

Thind’s lawyers also argued that as a “high caste Hindu” he even had a revulsion to marrying an Indian woman of a “lower race.” Unfortunately for Thind, the court decided to rely on another case where it was held that “white people” were only those who were members of the Caucasian race. As a result of the court’s decision, the first Indian to become an American citizen, A.K. Mozumdar, also had his American citizenship revoked. (IANS)

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Apple, Cisco, IBM owe their success to world-wide talent sourcing: Reserve Bank of India chief

Apr 25, 2017 0

By Arul Louis

New York– The titans at the commanding heights of the tech world owe their success to talent from across the globe, according to Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel, who pointed to what could be the Achilles heel of the ‘America First’ policy that seeks to restrict H1-B visas and imports.

“Where would Apple be, where would Cisco be, where would IBM be if they were not sourcing the best products and talent from across the world,” Patel asked here on Monday, and added a warning: “If policies come in the way of that, then the big wealth creators in a country that advocates protectionism are ultimately affected.”

Last year Apple applied for 1,354 H1-B visas, Cisco for 517, and IBM for 2,233 to bring in talent for their operations, according to a database maintained by Immihelp. (IBM applied for 13,115 H1-B visas in 2015.) H1-B visas are a scarce commodity in the tech world where companies vie for annual quota of the 85,000 visas meant for highly-skilled professionals.

Urjit Patel

Although Patel did not mention Google or Microsoft, both companies are headed by immigrants from India. The triumvirate at the top of the market capitalisation roster, Apple, Google and Microsoft, all have immigrant origins or connections.

Sundar Pichai is the CEO of Google, which was co-founded by Sergey Brin who immigrated from the former Soviet Union.

The biological father of Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs, is a Syrian immigrant, Abdulfattah Jandali.

“The most efficient corporations in the world, including in the US, benefit, their share prices are where they are because of the global supply chain,” Patel said. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s performance underscores his observation about market performance.

Microsoft’s share prices that were lagging around the $36 range when he took over in February 2014 closed on Monday at $67.53.

Donald Trump, who ran for President on a platforms of “Buy American, Hire American”, has called for restricting the H1-B visas for professionals to higher-level technical positions paying higher wages and for bringing back manufacturing to the US.

While answering audience questions after delivering the annual Kotak Family Distinguished Lecture at Columbia University, Patel was skeptical about the efficacy of restricting H1-B visas and imports to solve the domestic problem of equity.

He ascribed the calls for protectionism in the US to income inequality, and said they “should be addressed through domestic fiscal policies, in other words, taxation and income transfers”.

“Using trade instruments like customs duty, border tax, etc. is not the most efficient way. In fact, it could end up somewhere else.” (IANS)

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TCS, Infosys got only 8.8 percent of H-1B visas, Nasscom rebuts US claim

Apr 24, 2017 0

Bengaluru– Indian IT industry’s apex organisation has said that the two top companies — TCS and Infosys — got only 8.8 per cent of the H-1B visas for placement of workers in the United States.

“Of the six Indian IT companies, software majors TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) and Infosys received 7,504 H-1B visas in FY 2015, which is 8.8 per cent of the total H-1B visas,” said the National Association of Software Services and Companies (Nasscom) in a statement here.

The apex body’s clarification was in response to a US official last week accusing top Indian IT firms TCS and Infosys of unfairly cornering majority of the H-IB visas, by applying more in the lottery system.

President Donald Trump

Only six Indian IT firms were among the top 20 recipients of the H-1B visas in fiscal 2015 for their professionals to work in the US, said Nasscom.

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week to reform the H-1B visas norms by replacing the lottery system with a merit-based immigration policy.

“Every reputable data source in the US has documented a growing shortfall between the supply and demand for computer science majors in the US workforce, especially in cutting-edge fields such as cloud, big data, and mobile computing,” asserted Nasscom.

The US Department of Labor estimates that there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) jobs by 2018, with 50 per cent of the vacancies in IT-related positions.

“Indian IT firms account for less than 20 per cent of the H-1B visas; although Indian nationals get 71 per cent of them, testifying their high skill levels, especially in the very coveted STEM skills category,” stressed Nasscom.

Noting that the annual number of Indian IT specialists working on temporary visas for Indian IT service firms was 0.009 per cent of the 158-million-member US workforce, a Nasscom survey also found that the average wage for visa holders is $82,000 besides a fixed cost of $15,000 incurred on each visa, including its fee and related expenses.

“The average wage for visa holders is over 35 per cent higher than the minimum prescribed exempt wage of $60,000,” pointed out the Nasscom statement.

All companies, including the US, Indian and others, hire locally and bridge the skills gap by bringing in highly skilled professionals to temporarily work in the US on H-1B and other visas.

“Indian IT firms follow the global delivery model with US and global counterparts working with 75 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies, to enable them become more competitive globally and creating jobs locally in the US,” reiterated the statement.

The Indian IT Industry is a “net creator” of jobs in the US and supports half a million jobs directly and indirectly.

Refuting the American accusation, Infosys said it was committed to helping its US clients leverage technology to transform their businesses, empower their employees in new ways and become more competitive.

“To do this, we invest in the local communities in which we operate, including hiring local American top talent, bringing education and training to our clients to shrink the skills gap and work with policymakers to foster innovation within states and across the country,” said Infosys in a statement to IANS here.

Responding to reporters’ queries on the issue on Monday in New Delhi, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India is taking up its concerns with the US on the H-1B visa issue and not about individual companies.

“No one is questioning America’s sovereign right to issue visas… we’re only talking about their commitments made in their understanding with us on issuing visas to Indian professionals. There is no talk of individual companies,” she said. (IANS)

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Jaitley raises H-1B visa issue with US authorities

Apr 23, 2017 0

Washington– The vexed issue of the Trump administration mulling curbs in H-1B visas has been taken up with by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with the American authorities during his ongoing visit, an Indian official said on Sunday.

The issue was raised by Jaitley during his meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin here on Saturday, an Indian Finance Ministry statement said.

“Finance Minister Arun Jaitley raised the issue of H-1B visas for skilled professionals from India and highlighted the contribution which Indian companies and professionals are making to US economy,” it said.

Arun Jaitley

The issue stems from recent executive orders signed by US President Donald Trump which indicate a possible tightening of the H-1B visas.

“Issues related to terror funding were also discussed and the US Treasury Secretary appreciated the role of India in this regard, including Indo-US cooperation in FATF (Financial Action Task Force),” the statement said.

“Critical economic issues like Indo-US Investment Initiative, infrastructure collaboration, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, collaboration with USA for smart cities development, etcetera, were deliberated upon during the meeting,” it added.

Jaitley is on a five-day visit to the US to attend the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

According to the Finance Ministry, Jaitley also held bilateral meetings with the Finance Ministers of Sweden, France and Bangladesh, as well as with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

Meanwhile, the US, in turn, has alleged that Indian IT companies were unfairly cornering the major share of H-1B visas by putting extra tickets in the lottery system, which the current US administration wants to replace with a more merit-linked immigration policy.

“The top recipients of the H-1B visa are companies like Tata, Infosys, Cognizant — they will apply for a very large number of visas, more than they get, by putting extra tickets in the lottery raffle, if you will, and then they’ll get the lion’s share of visas,” a senior US official said at a White House briefing last week, according to transcripts posted on the White House website.

“And those three companies are companies that have an average wage for H-1B visas between $60,000 and $65,000. By contrast, the median Silicon Valley (US) software engineer’s wage is probably around $150,000,” the official said. (IANS)

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Los Angeles police won’t act as federal immigration force

Apr 21, 2017 0

Los Angeles–Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed that local police would not help the federal government detain undocumented immigrations for deportation.

In his State of the City address in English and Spanish at City Hall on Thursday, Garcetti directly addressed ongoing relationship between the second largest city of the country and President Donald Trump’s administration over the contentious issue of illegal immigration, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) will never act as a federal immigration force,” Garcetti said, promising that other city agencies would follow suit, which drew warm applause in the hall.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (Photo: Wikipedia)

“We want people in this city to earn legal wages, pay taxes and start businesses,” Garcetti said, despite President Trump threatening to cut federal funding of cities that act as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants.

The Mayor said he was heartened in January to see Los Angeles residents rush to airports to offer services to travellers blocked by Trump’s executive order from entering the US.

It was not the first time that Californian politicians displayed a stern attitude against Trump’s immigration policy.

“In California, immigrants are an integral part of who we are and what we’ve become,” Governor Jerry Brown said earlier this year,

“They have helped create the wealth and dynamism of this state from the very beginning.” (IANS)

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Jaitley will take up H-1B visa issue in US visit: Sitharaman

Apr 20, 2017 0

New Delhi– Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, currently on a visit to the US, will take up with the American administration the matter of restrictions on H-1B visas, the government said on Thursday.

Speaking to media here on the executive order signed by US President Donald Trump on H-1B visas, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the US had committed certain number of these visas to India at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and “we would definitely want” America to honour that commitment.

“It is not just the US, but several countries now adopting such (restrictive) measures,” she said.

The restrictive visa regime would also impact the US companies operating in India, the Minister said.

“So it is not a unilateral (issue) where Indian companies would have to face this… there are several US companies in India which are doing business for years here,” she said.

While the US is reviewing its visa programme for foreign workers, Australia has recently abolished a temporary work visa programme — the 457 visa.

Citing the examples of these countries tightening their visa regime for movement of skilled professionals, Sitharaman said: “Countries are now very clearly raising protectionist walls as regards service trade.”

Arun Jaitley

“I protest comparison of asylum-seeking migrants with skilled professionals.”

To a question whether India would take the US and Australia to the WTO’s dispute resolution mechanism, she replied: “At this stage, we will engage constructively. At the same time, India will ensure that it will not accept unfair treatment.”

In this connection, Sitharaman said India has submitted a proposal to the WTO for an agreement on trade facilitation in services (TFS)

“It is time that we have a global framework within which trade in services can happen. We will be actively pursuing our proposal in the WTO,” she said.

India has presented a concept note at the WTO for a TFS Agreement, which proposes a way forward on comprehensively addressing the numerous border and behind-the-border barriers on the lines of the historic trade facilitation agreement in goods.

The TFS proposal aims at liberalising rules for movement of professionals, liberalised visa regime and long-term business visas.

India is pushing for a TFA in services at the WTO as this sector has huge potential and contributes significantly to the country’s economy.

Pointing out that the Indian services sector contributes over 55 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, Sitharaman earlier said India was unable to leverage its strength in services to get the necessary benefits in the TFA in goods signed with the Asean group, for instance.

Meanwhile, India’s paper for a proposed TFS Agreement has been well received by many member countries, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo told reporters here during a visit last month.

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H-1B not immigration but trade, services issue: India

Apr 20, 2017 0

New Delhi– With US President Donald Trump ordering tougher conditions for issuance of H-1B visas, the biggest beneficiaries of which are Indians, a senior official here said on Thursday that it is not a matter concerning immigration but that of trade and services.

“It is not an immigration matter as we have said earlier, it is basically a trade and services issue,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in his weekly media briefing.

“There is the mutuality of interests involved over here,” he said.

On Tuesday, hammering his “America First” campaign theme, Trump signed an order tasking the department heads of State, Justice, Homeland Security and Labor to propose reforms in order to ensure H-1B visas are given to the “most-skilled or highest paid” petitioners.

The move is seen as a deterrent to Indian IT firms which send software engineers to the US on H-1B visas.

Baglay said that just as there are Indian companies in the US, there are US multinationals operating in India.

Gopal Baglay

He said that the government is talking to industry bodies as the matter directly concerns Indian workers in the IT industry.

“We have already pointed out then contribution which the Indian professionals have made to the competitiveness of the US economy and the innovations within the US economy,” he stated.

“We have also earlier on referred to the contribution of these professionals as bridge builders between the two economies of the United States and India as well as between our societies.”

The spokesperson said that what has happened in the US is that an executive order has been passed.

“Now, it has to be acted upon and as a result of which it could perhaps be expected that there could be a legislation in the US Congress or there could be some other sort of process concerning the H-1B visas,” Baglay said.

“So, once that process takes place, then we will have to make an assessment depending upon the details at that stage of the changes made.”

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