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India reiterates concern to US over H1-B visa issue

IANS | New Delhi |


India on Tuesday reiterated its concern to the US over the latest bid to introduce stricter norms for issuance of H1-B visas which are largely availed by Indian IT firms.

The Indian concerns were conveyed during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and a US Congressional delegation from the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

“EAM @SushmaSwaraj flagged the issue of H1B visa as a strong concern and sought bipartisan Congressional support for the same,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted following the meeting between Sushma Swaraj and the nine-member delegation led by the House Committee’s Chairman Lamar Smith.

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.

Sushma Swaraj also raised the issue with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Session last month.

While Trump has spoken of restricting the H1-B visa system as part of his policy of putting Americans first, so far there have been no changes to it and for this year the same levels of 65,000 for general H1-B visas and 20,000 for those with advanced US degrees have been kept.

Indians get most of the H1-B visas, although there are no national quotas for the facility nor is it specifically designed for Indians.

In Tuesday’s meeting, Sushma Swaraj lauded the positive role of the US Congress in developing India-US strategic relations.

“EAM @SushmaSwaraj welcomed the strong desire of the delegation to strengthen cooperation in strategic, economic, S&T and space sectors,” Kumar said in a separate tweet.