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Govt in talks with US on H1B visa issue

Anjul Tomar/SNS | New Delhi |

Amid concerns raised by the Indian Information Technology industry on the US visa regime, the government on Friday said it was in talks with the US administration on the H1B visa issue. Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravishankar Prasad told The Statesman that the ministry was coordinating with the External Affairs Ministry and the government hoped to find a solution soon.

"Indian IT industry has raised some concerns. We're coordinating with the MEA which in turn is touch with the US administration on the visa issue." According to reports, US President Donald Trump is set to sign an order overhauling work visa programmes.

MEA said on Friday that India's interest and concerns on the issue had been conveyed both to the US administration and the US Congress. "We remain vigilant to what happens on this in future," MEA spokesperson Vikar Swarup said. The H1B visa allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialised fields and the technology companies depend on it to hire employees.

Opposition has been blaming the government of maintaining a silence on the US visa issue which is feared to erode to bottomlines of the Indian technology companies. Opposition parties including Trinmool Congress and CPM raised the issue in the Parliament this week to draw the government's attention to secure interests of Indian IT firms.

There are about five lakh Indians in IT sector working abroad on H1B visas. The proposed overhaul of popular H1B visa regime has raised concerns among the Indian IT firms as the changes may result in higher costs and shortage of skilled IT workers for their foreign client. Indian IT sector is one of the biggest private sector employers having 37 lakh employees and contributes over 9 per cent to the country's GDP. The new US legislation that has been introduced proposes to double the minimum wages of H1B visa holders at 130,000 dollars. Such protectionist stance stand by the US government could spell more trouble for IT firms that are already facing strong headwinds from technology shift and cautious client spending.